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Digitized  by  the  Internet  Archive 

in  2011  with  funding  from 

LYRASIS  Members  and  Sloan  Foundation 

-M.en  and  J.  heir  Work 

JVLen  and    X  heir  Work 

by  Everett  Cherrington  Hughes 

The  Free  Press  of  Glencoe 
Collier-Macmillan  Limited,  London 

Copyright  1958  by  The  Free  Press,  A  Corporation 
Printed  in  the  United  States  of  America 


L.  C.  Catalog  Card  No.  58-6483 
Second  Printing  July  1964 

Collier-Macmillan  Canada,  Ltd.,  Toronto,  Ontario 


My  Two  Helens 


My  Two  Elsies 




Preface  7 

1.  Cycles,  Turning  Points,  and  Careers  11 

2.  Personality  Types  and  the  Division  of  Labor  23 

3.  Work  and  the  Self  42 

4.  Institutional  Office  and  the  Person  56 

5.  Social  Role  and  the  Division  of  Labor  68 

6.  Licence  and  Mandate  78 

7.  Mistakes  at  Work  88 

8.  Dilemmas  and  Contradictions  of  Status  102 

9.  The  Making  of  a  Physician  116 

10.  Professions  in  Transition  131 

11.  Psychology:  Science  and/or  Profession  139 

12.  The  "Gleichschaltung"  of  the  German  Statistical 

Yearbook:  A  Case  in  Professional  Political 

Neutrality  145 

13.  Professional  and  Career  Problems  of  Sociology  157 

Postscript  —  Two  Worlds:  Social  Science  and 

the  Cosmos  169 

Bibliography  177 

Index  181 

x  ret: 


A  man's  work  is  as  good  a  clue  as  any  to  the  course  of  his 
life,  and  to  his  social  being  and  identity.  This  has  been  so 
longer  than  we  sociologists,  with  our  love  of  stereotypes  of 
the  past  against  which  to  highlight  the  present,  allow.  The 
new  thing  is  that  the  number  of  kinds  of  work  to  be  done 
is  so  great  as  to  be  confusing  to  the  young  person  trying  and, 
indeed,  compelled  to  get  into  one.  The  changes  wrought  in 
known  and  historic  occupations  by  new  technology,  new 
organization  and  by  social  movements  within  a  man's  life- 
tune — or  more  exactly,  within  his  work-time — make  the  con- 
fusion worse  confounded.  One  may  find  himself  earning  his 
living  at  work  that  neither  he  nor  those  who  guided  him 
(teachers,  parents  and  knowing  peers)  had  heard  of  when  he 
was  in  school.  He  may  find  that  the  cherished  object  of  his 
and  his  parents'  ambition  and  hard  work  is  "automated"  to 
splinters;  or  that  the  profession  which  was  to  make  him  free 
nowadays  makes  him  a  cog  in  a  great  machine. 

Many  new  and  some  old  occupations  have  sought  for 
themserves  the  envied  status  of  profession;  some  of  them  suc- 
ceed in  gaining  that  esteem,  that  broad  license  to  control 
their  work  and  that  social  mandate  over  affairs  pertaining 
to  it  that  the  term  profession  connotes.  A  man  may  get  into 
a  dying  trade,  an  old  one  being  transformed  in  its  essential 
aspects,  a  new  one  on  the  way  up,  or  even  a  new  one  already 
failing  short  of  the  aspirations  of  its  still  living  founders  and 


[  8  ]  Preface 

advocates.  The  resulting  problems  of  the  definition  and  con- 
trol of  occupations  and  of  careers  of  individuals  are  many. 
Hence,  although  a  man's  work  may  indeed  be  a  good  clue 
to  his  personal  and  social  fate,  it  is  a  clue  that  leads  us — 
and  the  individual  himself — not  by  a  clear  and  single  track 
to  a  known  goal,  but  into  a  maze  full  of  dead-ends  and  of 
unexpected  adventures. 

Of  course  not  all,  or  even  any  great  proportion,  of  people 
are  confused  unduly  by  the  world  of  work,  either  in  advance 
or  as  they  get  on  into  it.  The  bureaucratic  trend  has  so  pen- 
etrated business  and  industry  that  more  and  more  people 
have  assurance,  at  least  on  paper,  of  a  smooth  and  well- 
marked  march  by  easy  stages  from  the  high-school  guidance 
office  to  a  retirement  suitable  to  one's  achievements.  Some 
of  the  best  sociological  research  of  recent  years  has  had  to 
do  with  the  great  bureaucratic  organizations  in  which  much 
of  the  work  of  our  economy  is  done.  One  thinks  of  the  fruit- 
ful hypotheses  and  findings  concerning  human  groups  which 
have  emerged  from  study  of  what  is  commonly,  though  badly, 
called  "restriction  of  production."  But  the  trend  towards  large 
organizations  and  toward  the  bureaucratizing  of  careers  does 
not  do  away  with  the  struggle  of  the  individual  to  find  a  place 
and  an  identity  in  the  world  of  work  or  with  the  collective 
efforts  of  occupations  to  exert  control  over  the  terms  of  their 
work  with  and  for  others. 

It  is  with  these  latter  problems  that  the  papers  in  this 
volume  are  concerned;  with  the  social  psychological,  rather 
than  with  the  organizational  aspects  of  work;  and  with  the 
professional  and  would-be  professional  rather  than  with  the 
industrial  and  bureaucratic  occupations.  This  is  so,  not  by 
design  (although  I  have  left  out  some  papers  on  industrial 
problems),  but  by  the  accident — if  it  be  one — of  the  bent  of 
my  own  work.  Yet  I  think  it  can  fairly  be  said  of  the  papers 
that  they  clearly  imply,  where  they  do  not  state,  that  the 
career  of  a  man  is  worked  out  in  some  organized  system 

PREFACE  [  9  ] 

without  reference  to  which  it  cannot  be  described,  much  less 
understood;  and  that  the  career  of  an  occupation  consists  of 
changes  of  its  internal  organization  and  of  its  place  in  the 
division  of  labor  of  which  society  itself  consists. 

The  papers  do  not  so  much  report  the  details  of  research 
as  discuss  ideas  which  grew  out  of  whatever  study  or  series 
of  studies  I  was  working  on  at  the  time.  The  late  Professor 
Robert  E.  Park  asked  me,  then  a  graduate  student,  to  write 
a  paper  on  my  not  yet  finished  study  of  the  attempt  of  real 
estate  men  to  gain  power  and  the  status  of  a  profession;  the 
result  was  "Personality  Types  and  the  Division  of  Labor." 
One  of  the  latest,  "  The  Making  of  a  Physician,"  was  a  state- 
ment designed  to  get  support  of  a  foundation  for  study  of  a 
medical  school.  The  foundation  was  not  impressed,  but  four 
of  us,  myself  and  colleagues  (two  of  whom  were  once  my 
students)  are  in  the  exciting  midst  of  the  study  (thanks  to 
support  from  a  more  modest  quarter). 

My  debts  lie,  therefore,  in  two  directions.  I  was  greatly 
taught  and  greatly  encouraged  by  Professors  Small,  Park 
and  Faris  and  continue  to  be  so  by  my  teacher  and  colleague, 
Professor  Burgess.  But  those  best  of  all  colleagues,  my  stu- 
dents, have  also  encouraged  me  by  their  interest;  and,  better- 
ing their  instruction,  they  continue  to  teach  me.  I  have 
exploited  their  observations  and  their  ideas  in  these  papers, 
probably  even  more  than  I  know.  May  these  papers  suggest 
still  new  and  fruitful  studies  to  still  other  students  who  will 
become  colleagues. 

My  apologies  are  due  the  reader  for  not  including  refer- 
ence to  many  recent  important  articles  and  books  on  profes- 
sional and  other  kinds  of  work.  The  bibliography  includes 
only  those  things  referred  to  in  the  original  articles  here 

Everett  Cherrington  Hughes 

Cycles,  Turning  Points, 
and  Careers 

Every  man  is  born,  lives,  and  dies  in  historic  time.  As  he 
runs  through  the  life-cycle  characteristic  of  our  species,  each 
phase  of  it  joins  with  events  in  the  world.  In  our  society,  the 
successive  phases  of  his  life  tend  to  be  defined  in  terms  of  his 
relations  to  the  world  of  school  and  work:  pre-school,  school, 
work,  and  retirement.  But  some  people  come  to  the  age  of 
work  when  there  is  no  work;  others  when  there  are  wars.  A 
man  may  learn  the  trade  of,  say,  furrier;  start  a  small  shop 
in  a  solid  city  neighborhood  only  to  have  technological  and 
economic  changes  make  him  and  the  shop  slightly  obsolete 
and  to  have  his  customers  desert  to  the  suburbs  when  he  is 
too  old  to  learn  the  new  techniques  and  to  raise  the  new 
capital  required  for  a  smart  suburban  shop,  yet  too  young  to 
retire  decently.  Such  joining  of  a  man's  life  with  events, 
large  and  small,  are  his  unique  career,  and  give  him  many 
of  his  personal  problems. 

But  not  all  of  a  man's  life  is  his  work;  and  not  all  of  it 

The  main  body  of  this  paper  was  prepared  for  the  Eighth  Annual  Con- 
ference on  Theology  in  Action,  Adelynrood,  South  Byfield,  Mass.,  Septem- 
ber, 1950,  and  was  published  by  the  National  Council  of  the  Episcopal 
Church,  as  a  Faculty  Paper,  in  1952,  with  the  title  Cycles  and  Turning 
Points.  It  is  here  reprinted  with  permission. 


[  12  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

is  unique  in  the  sense  of  being  very  different  from  the  courses 
of  other  men's  lives.  There  is  a  certain  order  in  the  lives  of 
men  in  a  society.  Some  of  the  ordering  is  open,  intentional, 
and  institutionalized;  some  of  it  happens  without  people  quite 
knowing  it  until  it  is  turned  up  by  investigation.  The  ordering 
in  our  society,  as  I  have  mentioned  above,  is  very  much  a 
matter  of  a  man's  relation  to  the  world  of  work.  It  is  also 
true  that  our  institutions  of  work  are  highly  developed  and 
are,  in  unusual  measure,  formally  separated  from  others. 
There  are  a  time  and  a  place  for  work;  times  and  places  for 
family  life,  recreation,  religion,  and  politics.  The  mood  and 
frame  of  mind  of  the  place  of  work  are  supposed  to  be  dif- 
ferent from  those  of  the  rest  of  life.  The  study  of  the  more 
or  less  orderly  and  predictable  course  of  a  man's  work  life 
has  become  a  major  concern  of  several  branches  of  academic 
endeavor.  Some  of  the  essays  which  follow  in  this  volume 
have  to  do  with  careers  in  just  this  sense.  This  essay,  however, 
treats  of  the  phases  and  turning  points  of  a  man's  whole  life. 
It  is  included  in  a  volume  of  essays  on  work  just  because  it 
does  see  a  man's  life  as  a  whole,  of  which  his  work  is  but 
one  facet. 

Every  culture  develops  a  calendar;  some  cycle  of  days, 
moons,  positions  of  sun  and  stars,  or  rain  and  drought,  heat 
and  cold,  of  plenty  and  want;  of  germination,  growth,  and 
harvest  of  plant;  of  breeding,  birth,  growth  and  migration 
of  the  animals  upon  which  they  depend.  These  cycles  of 
nature  are  interlaced  with  man's  cycle  of  work  and  play 
and  with  his  movements  from  place  to  place.  Anthropol- 
ogists have  given  us  a  rich  body  of  descriptions  of  these 
cycles  among  the  peoples  of  the  world  and  of  the  myriad  rites, 
festivals,  exorcisms,  and  the  like  which  mark  their  turning 
points.  They  tell  us  of  cycles  of  mood  as  well  as  of  natural 
occurrence,  of  periods  of  black  despair  followed  by  gay  re- 
newal of  life  and  hope.  A  tribe  may,  with  its  most  powerful 
rites,  compel  the  sun  to  stop  his  flight  to  the  south  and  to 


turn  northward  so  as  to  bring  summer  again.  It  may  combine 
abstinence,  fasting,  and  repentance  of  sin  with  its  most  im- 
pressive ceremonials  to  make  the  rains  come  after  seasonal 
drought  or  to  make  them  stop  ere  the  earth  dissolve  in 
moisture.  We  are  all  aware  of  the  way  in  which  the  ancient 
cycle  of  solstice  and  equinox  has  become  woven  into  the  Chris- 
tian calendar.  Whether  the  rites  which  accompany  the  turning 
of  the  wheel  of  time  among  so  many  of  the  peoples  of  the  world 
are  of  the  essence  of  religion  or  not,  certainly  one  cannot 
say  much  about  religions  without  taking  the  calendar  of  rites 
into  account.  And  certainly  no  people  has  for  long  lived  with- 
out some  established  groupways  which  turn  with  the  sun. 

All  cultures  also  recognize  and  mark  in  various  ways  the 
biological  life-cycle  of  the  human  individual.  Birth  is  attended 
by  rites  which  acknowledge  the  social  existence  of  the  infant, 
and  make  him  a  member  of  his  kin-group  and  of  his  com- 
munity. At  the  same  time,  his  parents  are  ritually  made  into 
father  and  mother  and  assume  responsibility  for  developing 
and  training  their  offspring  into  good  members  of  the  com- 
munity. Further  rites  often  occur  at  puberty,  when  member- 
ship in  one  sex  or  the  other  becomes  a  more  fateful  matter; 
or  when  a  boy  is  ready  to  go  to  sea,  to  war,  or  to  the  hunt 
with  adult  males.  Entering  upon  a  trade,  marrying,  growing 
old,  and  dying  are  also  celebrated.  These  are  all  cases  of 
passage  from  one  status  to  another,  from  one  patterned  com- 
bination of  duties  and  privileges,  with  its  attendant  perils  and 
joys,  to  another.  After  the  phrase  of  van  Gennep,  they  have 
come  to  be  called  rites  de  passage,  rites  of  transition.  Some- 
times the  transition  from  one  status  to  another  is  considered 
of  such  import  that  the  candidate  is  given  special  instructions 
in  the  canons  of  conduct  appropriate  to  his  new  estate.  He 
may  be  sent  upon  a  lonely  journey  in  search  of  a  vision, 
separated  from  other  people  and  ordinary  activities  for  a  time, 
subjected  to  severe  ordeals  and  bound  by  solemn  vows.  He 
may  be  made  symbolically  to  die  as  a  child  and  to  be  born 

[  14  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

again  as  a  man.  Finally  he  may  appear  again  in  the  world 
transfigured,  in  a  new  costume  and  like  St.  Paul,  bearing  a 
new  name. 

Not  only  is  the  biological  life-cycle  of  the  individual  thus 
related  to  the  corresponding  social  cycle  of  his  standing  in 
society,  but  account  is  also  taken  of  occasional  cycles  of  mood 
and  condition,  that  is,  of  the  things  which,  while  not  so  fixed 
in  their  order  as  are  birth,  puberty,  aging  and  death,  are 
pretty  sure  to  happen  to  all  men,  life  and  human  nature  being 
what  they  are.  One  may  violate  a  tabu,  commit  a  sin,  or  do 
an  injury  to  another.  A  man  may  have  been  ill  and  in  his  fever 
may  have  seen  the  spirits  of  the  dead.  A  woman  may  be 
bereft  of  the  man  whose  bed  and  board  she  shared  so  closely 
that  they  were  as  one  life.  These  things  alienate  one  from 
other  men  and  women,  and  from  the  routine  and  banality 
of  life.  Many  societies  have  institutionalized  this  alienation. 
In  India  the  widow  jumped  into  the  funeral  pyre  and  joined 
her  husband  in  death.  More  commonly,  there  are  rites  for 
bringing  the  person,  in  due  time,  back  into  the  world.  In 
French  Canada,  a  young  widow  mourns  her  young  husband 
for  a  time,  starting  with  the  severest  of  black  costume  and 
gradually  returning  to  one  which  suggests  that  though  she  be 
a  woman  with  a  sorrow,  her  youth,  attractiveness,  and  fruit- 
fulness  are  not  to  be  wasted.  There  is  a  period  and  a  depth 
of  mourning  appropriate  to  every  age  and  state  of  the  mourner 
and  the  mourned,  and  to  every  degree  of  kin.  In  some  societies, 
mourning  is  brought  to  an  end  after  a  stated  period,  and  in 
a  ceremonial  way.  The  bereaved  arises,  puts  on  new  garments, 
and  goes  among  men  again. 

How  well,  in  each  case,  does  the  proper  institutional  ex- 
pression suit  the  felt  grief  of  the  bereaved  individual?  How 
often  is  it  a  hypocritical  cover?  How  often  a  woefully  insuf- 
ficient expression  of  deep  feeling?  How  often  does  the  fixed 
penance  for  sin  really  liquidate  the  sense  of  guilt?  How  often 
is  the  rite  gone  through  with  defiant  unrepentance?  These  are 


appropriate  questions,  but  one  cannot  answer  them  in  the 
mass.  I  suppose  that  if  the  instituted  rites  no  longer  correspond 
fairly  well  to  the  cycles  and  degrees  of  feeling  accompanying 
the  crises  they  are  intended  to  carry  one  over,  one  would  have 
to  say  that  something  is  out  of  joint  in  society;  that  is,  if  the 
psychological  reality  and  the  social  institution  are  no  longer 
in  some  good  functioning  relation  to  one  another.  However 
that  may  be,  there  is  one  great  thing  to  be  said  for  conven- 
tional and  instituted  rites  for  carrying  people  over  such  crises, 
and  for  passing  them  on  from  one  state  of  life  to  another; 
namely,  that  so  long  as  the  rites  are  practised  there  is  no 
attempt  to  deny  the  realities  of  the  human  life-cycle,  and  the 
contingencies  and  changes  of  status  that  occur  during  it,  and 
there  is  no  pretense  that  the  rhythms  of  mood,  of  guilt,  of 
unhappiness  and  grief  do  not  occur.  I  am  afraid  that  many 
of  us,  in  our  culture  and  in  our  time,  do  try  to  deny  these 
things,  to  exorcise  the  reality  by  the  negative  rite  of  looking 
firmly  in  the  opposite  direction  so  as  to  pretend  nothing  is 

The  number  of  phases  of  the  social  life-cycle  varies  from 
society  to  society  and  may  be  altered  by  social  changes  of 
many  kinds.  The  passage  from  one  phase  to  another  may 
be  obscured  or  prolonged.  In  our  society,  the  ages  of  entering 
and  leaving  school  and  of  going  to  work  and  supporting  one's 
self  have  been  undergoing  great  change.  We  are  far  from  the 
simple  state  of  rural  Quebec  where  a  boy  is  a  man  when,  for 
the  first  time,  he  goes  to  the  field  and  handles  a  team  of  horses. 
On  that  day,  when  he  comes  in  to  dinner  he  eats  with  the 
men  and,  before  returning  to  the  field,  hauls  down  a  pipe 
from  the  rack  near  the  kitchen  stove  and  smokes  a  pipeful 
of  home-grown,  home-cured  tobacco,  even  if  it  nearly  kills 
him.  With  us,  a  man's  graduation  from  college  or  professional 
school  may  be  attended  by  his  own  children.  A  physician,  on 
the  average,  does  not  make  ends  meet  until  he  is  past  thirty 
years  of  age.  It  is  therefore  difficult  to  say  when  childhood 

[16]  Men  and  Their  Work 

ceases,  when  adolescence  begins  and  ends,  when  one  is  really 
adult.  The  onset  and  the  risks  of  middle  age  are  altered  by 
technological  and  social  change.  The  functions  of  old  age 
are  perhaps  less  clearly  defined  than  ever  before,  in  spite  of 
the  fact  that  there  is  an  increasing  tendency  to  standardize 
the  age  of  retirement  from  work  and  the  movement  to  provide 
pensions  and  thus  economic  security  for  all  people. 

As  for  marriage,  the  women  of  our  time  run  a  greater 
risk  of  having  no  man  at  all  than  have  the  women  of  any 
other  civilization;  yet  they  are  completely  without  ritual  de- 
fences and  without  clear  definitions  and  rationalizations  of 
their  enforced  celibacy.  It  may  be  the  confusion  of  age  lines, 
the  lack  of  moments  of  clear-cut  change,  which  makes  us  a 
bit  unwilling  to  recognize  the  turns  from  one  life-phase  to 
another.  That  we  are  loathe  to  recognize  many  of  the  crucial 
turnings  is,  I  think,  beyond  dispute.  And  we  much  dislike  to 
mark  one  age  from  another  by  costume  and  ornament,  or  by 
terms  of  address  and  etiquette.  And,  while  the  psychiatrist 
is  familiar  with  the  private  rituals  by  which  people  try  to 
reduce  their  sense  of  guilt,  we  are  especially  loathe  to  recog- 
nize it  socially  as  something  requiring  periodic  public  cere- 
monial liquidation.  And  as  Margaret  Mead  has  pointed  out, 
we  even  try  to  do  away  with  death.  The  modern  hospital, 
in  its  anxiety  to  appear  to  be  a  place  where  all  patients  get 
well,  refuses  to  allow  relatives  to  gather  for  a  ceremonial 
parting  from  a  loved  one,  and  condemns  the  dying  to  sanitary 
solitude.  If  there  be  any  triumph  in  death,  our  generation 
will  not  be  there  to  see  it.  As  for  mourning,  we  are  so  fearful 
of  wearing  sorrow  upon  our  sleeves,  that  we  eat  our  hearts 
out  in  a  mourning  which  cannot  be  brought  to  a  decent  end, 
because  it  has  never  had  a  proper  beginning.  I  have  had  dear 
friends  who  have  done  it  so;  and  so  has  anyone  who  is  of 
that  well-meaning  generation  who  believed  that  all  good  things 
could  be  attained  by  science  and  all  bad  things  avoided  by 
emancipation  from  old  formulae  and  freedom  from  old  dis- 


tinctions;  the  people  who  got  it  into  their  heads  that  anything 
formal  is  cold — not  sensing  that  ceremonial  may  be  the  cloak 
that  warms  the  freezing  heart,  that  a  formula  may  be  the 
firm  stick  upon  which  the  trembling  limbs  may  lean;  that  it 
may  be  a  house  in  which  one  may  decently  hide  himself  until 
he  has  the  strength  and  courage  to  face  the  world  again. 

How  ghastly  can  be  the  smile  of  a  suffering  man  who  is 
pretending  that  all  is  well;  how  pathetic  the  stiff  but  tottering 
stance  of  a  man  who,  because  he  does  not  know  how  to  share 
his  troubles  with  others  through  the  historic  liturgies,  is  about 
to  break  under  them.  How  pathetic,  also,  the  man  who,  in 
his  time  of  trouble,  expresses  the  ultimate  of  that  individual- 
ism in  which  we  have  all  been  reared — the  insistence  that  his 
troubles  are  so  private  and  so  unique  that  no  social  salve  can 
soothe  them. 

The  trouble  may  have  been  that,  since  we  believed  in 
progress,  in  things  getting  better  and  better,  we  were — and 
are — unwilling  to  face  the  implication  of  inevitability  that 
lies  in  a  repeated  rite.  A  rite  is  something  which  is  set  off, 
so  to  speak,  by  a  trigger,  by  something  which  happens  again 
and  again.  To  observe  a  rite  is  a  sort  of  confession  that  the 
occasion  of  it  may  happen  again  and  again  in  the  future  as 
it  has  in  the  past.  It  is  as  if  the  magnitude  of  progressive 
changes  had  blinded  us  to  the  limits  within  which  change 
occurs.  The  average  life-expectancy  of  the  child  at  birth  has 
increased  so  marvelously  that  we  overlook  the  fact  that  the 
oldest  man  alive  now  is  probably  no  older  than  the  oldest 
man  alive  in  the  days  of  great  Caesar,  and  no  older  in  medi- 
cally progressive  America  than  in  backward  India.  Our  aver- 
age health  is  so  good  that  we  forget  that  man  is  as  mortal 
as  ever.  And  perversely  enough,  as  the  belief  in  life  after 
death  has  declined,  we  have  become  less  and  less  willing  to 
make  an  occasion  of  death  itself.  Those  who  have  the  cure 
of  souls  in  their  charge — pastors,  psychiatrists — can  tell  bet- 
ter than  I  what  burdens  break  and  what  sicknesses  ravage 

[  18  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

the  souls  of  people  who,  in  the  name  of  self-reliance,  emancipa- 
tion or  progress,  try  to  act  as  if  there  were  no  cycle  of  youth, 
maturity,  old  age,  and  death;  no  rhythms  of  inner  peace  and 
conflict,  of  guilt  and  freedom  from  guilt,  of  grief  and  of  the 
healing  of  its  wounds. 

I  began  with  some  statements  concerning  the  calendar  and 
went  from  that  to  the  problem  of  the  life  cycle  of  the  individ- 
ual. Let  us  return  to  the  calendar,  for  the  two  are  closely 
related.  Revolutionary  movements  are  invariably  enemies  of 
the  existing  calendar  for  the  very  good  reason  that  the  cal- 
endar embodies  the  social  memory.  Every  day  is  rich  with 
meaning;  the  more  festive  days  and  seasons  blow  into  flame 
the  cooling  embers  of  sentiment.  The  calendar  is  the  warp  of 
the  fabric  of  society,  running  lengthwise  through  time,  and 
carrying  and  preserving  the  woof,  which  is  the  structure  of 
relations  among  men,  and  the  things  we  call  institutions. 

The  men  of  the  French  revolution  tried  to  cut  off  the 
warp  of  memory  by  changing  the  names  of  days  and  even 
months;  they  went  further,  and  tried  to  break  the  rhythm  of 
life  itself  by  changing  the  number  of  days  in  the  weeks  and 
of  months  in  the  years.  This  is  a  logical  thing  for  men  to  do 
when  they  want  to  change  society  completely.  Its  relation  to 
rites  is  obvious. 

Sectarian  movements,  bent  upon  religious  revolution,  like- 
wise attack  the  calendar.  Insofar  as  purification  of  an  ancient 
religion  is  their  aim,  they  see  in  the  calendar  and  the  rites 
that  are  timed  by  it,  the  barnacles  of  corrupt  tradition  which 
have  gathered  upon  the  strong,  clean  hull  of  doctrine  and 
practice.  But  there  is  another  logic  behind  the  sectarian  attack. 
It  is  hinted  at  in  Dom  Gregory  Dix's  Shape  of  the  Liturgy, 
in  a  magnificent  chapter  entitled,  "The  Sanctification  of  Time." 
The  early  Christians  developed  little  in  the  way  of  a  calendar 
in  the  centuries  before  Constantine.  Why?  Because  they  were 
a  little  band  of  faithful  people  holding  themselves  in  constant 
readiness  for  the  end  of  the  old  and  the  beginning  of  the  new. 


They  did  not  look  back.  Since  the  danger  of  death  and  dam- 
nation and  the  hope  of  Christ's  coming  were  equal  in  all 
moments  of  time  (Ye  know  not  the  day  nor  the  hour),  one 
had  to  be  equally  in  a  state  of  grace  at  all  times.  Hence,  one 
day  could  be  no  more  dedicated  to  the  service  of  God  than 
another.  As  time  went  on,  the  Christians  made  some  peace 
with  the  world;  as  generations  turned,  they  began  to  accum- 
ulate memories,  to  take  account  of  rhythms  and  cycles,  to 
recognize  that  some  among  the  saints  are  more  constant  than 
others  and  that  the  best  of  us  have  our  ups  and  downs.  So 
they  developed  devices  for  meeting  the  recurrent  smaller  crises 
of  life  while  waiting  for  the  great  final  crisis.  Thus  it  is 
with  the  recurring  revivals  and  movements  for  the  purification 
of  religion.  Some  man,  himself  at  white  heat,  conceives  of  a 
church  of  people  all  at  constant  white  heat.  Only  those  who 
are  aware  of  their  lost  condition  and  who  have  consciously 
repented  and  believed,  only  those  whose  devotion  is  full  and 
complete,  are  members  of  the  true  church.  You  will  see  this 
ideal  described  in  John  Locke's  famous  Letters  concerning 
Toleration.  It  was  embodied  in  the  Quaker  meeting  in  its 
early  form. 

Since  it  could  not  be  allowed  that  devotion  could  or 
should  vary  from  moment  to  moment,  or  from  day  to  day, 
there  could  be  no  holy  days,  no  cycles,  no  calendar.  Thus 
Edmund  Gosse  in  Father  and  Son  tells  how  his  father,  Philip 
Henry  Gosse,  threw  into  the  garbage-can  the  Christmas  pud- 
ding which  a  sympathetic  cook  had  secretly  prepared  for  the 
small  boy.  The  father  was  of  the  Brethren  who  did  not 
approve  of  special  Christian  days  and  especially  hated  joy- 
ous festivity  in  the  name  of  religion.  The  ceremonies  of 
renewal  imply  that  faith  and  fervor  cool  and  want  reheating. 
That  the  true  sectarian  zealot  cannot  allow. 

Likewise,  since  entering  the  Church  is  purely  a  matter  of 
reasonable  conviction,  it  must  be  a  single,  catastrophic  act 
of  a  person  of  the  age  called  that  of  discretion.  Hence  that 

[  20  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

horror  of  infant  baptism  so  common  among  strict  sectarian 
groups.  Edmund  Gosse,  again,  reports  his  childish  wondering 
about  what  terrifying  sinful  practice  lay  behind  the  mysterious 
epithet,  paedo-baptist — the  anxious  fear  that  something  less 
than  unwavering  white  heat  of  fervor  is  inimical  to  the 
cycles  of  growth  and  changes  of  state  implied  in  a  series  of 
rites  of  religious  initiation  and  transition  beginning  in  infancy 
or  childhood. 

Now  these  features  of  early  Christian  and  of  sectarian 
mentality  generally  are  of  more  than  historical  interest.  For 
the  sectarian  revolt  against  calendars  and  cycles  is  something 
that  occurs  again  and  again.  And  as  often  as  it  occurs,  the 
facts  of  life  slowly  or  rapidly  catch  up  with  the  revolting 
group.  For  one  thing,  even  sectarians  have  children.  In  theory, 
these  offspring  of  the  saints  may  be  outside  the  Church  until 
they  are  violently  converted  at  some  age  called  that  of  discre- 
tion. But  people  are  not  really  that  hard-hearted  when  they 
become  parents.  Besides,  conversion  in  course  of  time  tends 
to  come  and  to  be  expected  to  come  at  a  certain  age,  usually 
adolescence.  A  Baptist  student  told  me  how,  when  he  was 
fourteen,  his  parents  and  the  pastor  openly  expected  him  to 
be  soundly  converted  between  Christmas  and  that  time  in  the 
spring  when  the  water  would  be  warm  enough  for  an  open- 
air  baptizing  in  New  Brunswick.  His  age-mates,  who  were 
with  him  in  a  special  class  for  the  purpose,  saw  the  light  one 
after  another.  He  alone  got  no  sign  from  heaven.  He  got  to 
feeling  so  guilty  that  he  finally  felt  compelled  to  testify  to  an 
experience  which  he  had  not  had.  The  words  came  easily  from 
the  formulae  in  which  he  had  heard  others  tell  what  they  had 
felt  in  conversion.  Then  for  weeks,  while  he  basked  in  the 
sunlight  of  general  approval  during  the  day,  he  lay  awake  at 
night  fearing  that  his  lie  was  the  unpardonable  sin.  James 
Weldon  Johnson  tells  a  similar  story  of  his  Negro  Methodist 
youth  in  Florida.  He,  too,  lied,  but  in  verse  and  made  a  career 
of  it. 


One  could  go  on  with  examples  of  the  growth  of  cal- 
endars. The  early  Methodist  camp-meeting  and  revival  were 
outbreakings  of  the  spirit,  whenever  and  wherever  it  might 
please  God;  but  in  due  time  God  pleased  more  and  more 
often  to  have  the  camp  meeting  right  after  harvest  when  a 
joyous  spirit  coincided  with  a  slack  in  the  farm  work,  and 
to  have  the  revival  in  the  dead  of  winter  when  life  was  dark 
and  dreary.  Gradually  the  revival  has  merged  back  into  Holy 
Week.  The  shoutings  of  the  Negro  meeting  have  settled  into 
rhythms  and  chants. 

The  single-minded  logic  of  hard  reason,  of  unwavering 
devotion,  of  equal  sanctity  of  the  days,  gives  way  to  the 
rhythms  and  cycles  of  birth,  growth,  and  decline  and  death. 
The  fanatical  insistence  that  all  men  be  equally  strong  and 
constant  gives  way  to  a  measure  of  charity  for  the  young  and 
the  weak,  and  to  devices  to  bring  both  weak  and  strong  back 
into  grace  after  a  fall.  It  is,  I  suppose,  the  dialectic  of  time 
and  eternity,  of  the  absolute  unchanging  ideal  and  of  the 
relative  changing  reality. 

The  manner  in  which  any  society  or  epoch  handles  this 
dialectic  is  one  of  its  distinguishing  marks,  and  is  one  of  the 
things  which  will,  I  am  convinced,  determine  the  kinds  of 
soul  sickness  from  which  its  members  will  suffer. 

As  for  our  own  times,  William  Graham  Sumner  said  of 
us  even  half  a  century  ago  that  we  no  longer  like  to  take 
vows;  that  is,  to  make  commitments  for  ourselves.  He  might 
have  added  that,  in  the  name  of  emancipation  and  of  respect 
for  the  individual,  we  do  not  like  to  make  commitments  for 
others,  even  for  our  own  children.  And  in  all  rites  of  initiation 
or  transition  there  is  commitment  either  for  one's  self  or  for 
someone  else,  or  for  both.  I  even  know  a  woman  who  did 
not  want  to  name  her  children  more  than  tentatively  so  as 
to  leave  them  the  freedom  to  pick  their  own  names  to  suit 
whatever  notions  they  might  get  of  themselves.  She  could 
not  bear  being  a  paedonomist,  I  suppose.  When  and  if  it  be- 

[  22  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

comes  possible  to  control  the  sex  of  unborn  children,  we  will 
no  doubt  breed  a  generation  of  hermaphrodites  for  fear  of 
committing  our  children  to  an  identity  and  a  fate  not  of  their 

I  wonder  what  is  back  of  all  this.  Perhaps  it  is  that  sec- 
tarian Protestantism  has  lost  the  individual  faith  and  fervor 
which  allowed  several  magnificent  generations  of  rugged  in- 
dividualists to  do  without  a  calendar,  and  without  the  support, 
direction  and  comfort  of  liturgy  and  rites  of  passage.  Without 
their  faith,  but  with  a  scruple  for  the  feelings  of  others,  and 
especially  of  our  own  offspring,  that  our  immediate  predeces- 
sors lacked,  we  are  unwilling  to  commit  ourselves  and  even 
more  unwilling  to  commit  our  children  to  anything,  even  to 
a  social  identity.  And  in  so  doing,  we  rob  them  of  the  ultimate 
inalienable  right  of  every  child:  a  good  and  sound  reason 
for  running  away  from  home.  That  is  the  last  indignity  which 
the  child-centered  home  heaps  upon  its  miserable  victims. 

Personality  Types 
and  The  Division  of  Labor 

This  essay  does  not  have  to  do  with  personality  types  in  the 
terms  of  the  many  tests  devised  by  psychologists  for  revealing 
subtle  and  deep-lying  as  well  as  gross  and  obvious  differences 
among  individuals.  Indeed,  I  doubt  whether  I  would  give 
this  title  to  the  paper  if  I  were  writing  on  the  same  problems 
now.  I  would  not,  however,  give  up  the  use  of  the  term  person- 
ality to  refer  to  what  the  human  being  becomes  when  he  gains 
status,  not  merely  by  being  assigned  to  some  of  the  major 
differentiating  categories  of  the  society  in  which  he  lives,  but 
by  acquiring  a  place  in  a  series  of  sub-groups  with  variant 
versions  and  refinements  of  the  attitudes  and  values  of  the 
prevailing  culture.  The  division  of  labor  provides  many  such 
sub-groups  in  which  a  man  may  live  and  have  his  being.  If, 
as  W.  I.  Thomas  said,  personality  is  the  subjective  aspect  of 
culture,  then  a  man's  work,  to  the  extent  that  it  provides 
him  a  subculture  and  an  identity,  becomes  an  aspect  of  his 

The  paper  was  written  just  as  I  had  finished  and  was 
about  to  submit  as  a  Ph.  D.  thesis,  a  study  of  the  Chicago 
Real  Estate  Board.  One  might  say  that  it  rides  madly  off  in 

The  American  Journal  of  Sociology,  Vol.  XXXIII  (March,  1928),  754- 
768.  Reprinted  with  modifications,  by  permission. 


[  24  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

all  directions  from  that  study,  chasing  one  problem  after 
another  a  little  way. 

Literature  and  common  sense,  and,  in  these  latter  days, 
the  press,  have  given  us  stereotyped  pictures  of  persons  en- 
gaged in  various  occupations:  the  old-maid  school  teacher, 
the  parson,  the  village  blacksmith,  the  farmer,  the  professor, 
the  politician,  the  financier.  All  these  and  many  other  types 
so  created  are  expected  to  react  to  the  situations  of  life  in 
characteristic  manner.  To  many  the  cartoonist  adds  a  face 
and  costume.  Social  scientists  and  philosophers  have  taken 
the  cue  and  have  sometimes  related  types  of  men  to  their 
tasks,  as  Adam  Smith  in  his  classic  paragraph  on  the  nature 
of  the  differences  between  the  philosopher  and  the  man  with 
a  wheelbarrow.  In  common-sense  discussion  the  question  is 
not  asked  as  to  the  manner  in  which  the  differences  arise:  it 
only  talks  of  them  as  facts  or  fiction. 

In  our  branch  of  social  science  much  attention  has  lately 
been  turned  to  the  classification  of  persons  into  types,  accord- 
ing to  their  behavior.  Some  of  the  older  classifications,  as 
good  and  bad,  criminal  and  and  law-abiding,  rich  and  poor, 
have  been  called  into  question — not  because  the  classes  indi- 
cated do  not  exist,  but  because  they  do  not  give  sufficient 
clues  to  the  behavior  of  people.  Professor  Ernest  W.  Burgess 
has  undertaken  to  study  the  delinquent  as  a  person,  taking 
into  account  sequences  of  behavior,  the  roles  assumed  by  the 
person  in  his  group,  the  role  accorded  him  by  his  group;  and 
with  the  further  provision  that  one  take  into  account  the  group 
in  which  the  person  wishes  to  have  status.  That  is  to  say,  the 
group  in  which  he  "lives."  The  delinquency,  or  the  breaking 
of  the  law,  thus  becomes  a  mere  item  in  a  pattern  of  behavior, 
and  emphasis  is  put  on  the  fact  that  this  one  item  is  not 
always  the  same,  even  when  the  overt  act  involved  comes 
under  a  given  legal  category.  In  this  is  a  recognition  that 
behavior  types  do  not  necessarily  coincide  with  the  common- 
sense  or  legal  definitions. 


In  this  paper  we  appear  to  be  reverting  from  the  position 
already  gained;  looking  for  a  set  of  personality  types  in  a 
classification  of  people  according  to  the  work  they  do.  A 
number  of  questions  at  once  arise.  To  what  extent  do  persons 
of  a  given  occupation  "live  together"  and  develop  a  culture 
which  has  its  subjective  aspect  in  the  personality?  Do  persons 
find  an  area  for  the  satisfaction  of  their  wishes  in  the  associa- 
tions which  they  have  with  their  colleagues,  competitors,  and 
fellow-servants?  To  whose  opinions  is  one  sensitive?  What 
part  does  one's  occupation  play  in  giving  him  his  "life- 

A  prerequisite  for  the  answering  of  these  questions  is 
study  of  persons  engaged  in  various  occupations,  to  deter- 
mine the  nature  of  occupational  selection,  and  what  happens 
to  a  person  once  he  does  find  a  place  in  the  division  of  labor. 
A  number  of  such  studies  have  been  undertaken.  Some  are 
statistical  studies;  others  are  what  one  might  call  case  studies 
of  occupations,  as  Mrs.  Donovan's  work  on  the  waitress.2 
We  can  go  no  farther  in  this  paper  than  to  put  the  problem  into 
a  frame  of  reference,  and  illustrate  from  one  occupational 

Human  Ecology  and 
The  Division  of  Labor 

We  are  indebted  to  Durkheim  for  a  distinction  between 
two  types  of  social  units,  the  social  segment  and  the  social 
organ.  The  social  segment  is  that  sort  of  minute  community 
which  exists  in  independence  of  all  others;  its  members  grow 
up  under  conditions  so  uniform  that  their  consciences  are 
concrete,  uniform,  and  strong.  It  is  also  characterized  by  the 

1.  Thomas,  W.  I.,  and  Znaniecki,  F.  The  Polish  Peasant  in  Europe  and 
America  (New  York,  A.  A.  Knopf,  1927)  2d  ed.;  Vol.  I,  p.  27. 

2.  Donovan,  Frances  R.  The  Woman  Who   Waits,  Boston,   1920. 

[  26  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

presence  of  as  many  generations  as  the  longevity  of  the  group 
allows.  It  is  different  in  a  number  of  ways  from  all  other 
communities.  The  individual  cannot  imagine  any  other  set 
of  social  attitudes  than  the  one  common  to  the  people  of  his 
own  group.  The  social  organ,  on  the  other  hand,  is  dependent 
for  life  upon  other  communities;  it  represents  only  a  unit  in 
the  division  of  labor,  and  must  engage  in  exchange  with  other 
communities.  This  exchange  requires  at  least  a  minimum  of 
understanding  between  the  groups  of  communities  involved. 
The  division  of  labor  represents  a  set  of  exchanges  between 
communities  whereby  these  communities  become  involved 
as  functioning  parts  of  a  larger  community.  This  larger  com- 
munity, however,  has  no  common  conscience,  or  only  a  very 
tenuous,  vague,  abstract  one.  As  the  division  of  labor  pro- 
ceeds, the  life  of  each  social  organ  is  more  conditioned  by  the 
others;  the  forces  which  hold  it  in  place  come  to  include 
neighbors  as  well  as  the  soil  beneath  one's  feet.  It  is  this  pat- 
tern of  social  organs,  treated  spatially,  with  which  human 
ecology  concerns  itself. 

Sacred  Division  of  Labor 

In  the  type  of  community  which  Durkheim  calls  a  "social 
segment"  the  division  of  labor  is  either  very  simple  or  very 
rigid.  It  may  be  mere  incident  of  the  social  organization  of 
the  community,  consisting  in  sets  of  sacred  prerogatives,  as 
in  the  caste  system,  where  a  person  is  born  to  his  trade  and 
station.  We  may  call  this  sort  of  division  of  labor  a  sacred 
one.  The  prerogatives  of  a  given  caste  may  or  may  not  con- 
stitute a  unit  of  technique. 

In  a  study  of  the  division  of  labor  among  preliterates, 
done  under  the  tutelage  of  Professor  Ellsworth  Faris  at  the 
University  of  Chicago,  the  writer  isolated  a  set  of  occupations 
which  he  called  "preliterate  professions,"  including  healers, 
performers  of  rituals,  charmers,  medicine  men,  etc.  In  them 


he  found  associated  with  a  certain  amount  of  practical  tech- 
nique a  great  amount  of  secret  ritual  and  prerogative  whose 
connections  with  each  other  were  traditional  and  arbitrary 
and  fortified  by  taboos.  In  a  society  where  the  division  of 
labor  is  of  this  character,  its  relation  to  personality  is  fairly 
obvious,  especially  if  it  include  the  "caste"  feature  of  evalu- 
ation and  a  complete  set  of  social  relationships  involved  with 
it.  This  type  of  division  of  labor  is  essentially  a  phenomenon 
of  an  unchanging,  immobile  society.  There  may  be  a  tendency 
for  it  to  develop  in  a  changing  society,  or  at  least  to  persist. 
For  instance,  one  can  think  of  no  principle  of  technique 
which  naturally  associates  the  activities  of  the  clergyman:  he 
directs  the  business  affairs  of  his  parish,  marries,  baptizes, 
comforts  the  sad,  prays  for  the  recovery  of  the  sick,  and  acts 
as  interpreter  of  morals  and  theology.  The  functions  are  set 
in  a  traditional  and  somewhat  arbitrary  complex;  they  are 

As  Cecil  North  puts  it: 

"A  group  in  which  status,  occupation,  and  culture  have 
become  hereditary  is  known  as  a  caste.  As  a  matter  of  fact, 
however,  the  distinction  between  a  society  based  upon  caste 
and  one  in  which  open  classes  prevail  is  simply  one  of  degree. 
There  are  present  in  all  societies  forces  which  tend  to  crys- 
tallize the  form  of  social  institutions  and  social  organization. 
And  it  is  merely  a  question  of  how  freely  these  forces  have 
made  themselves  or  worked  themselves  out  to  a  logical  con- 

The  Secularization  of 

The  Division  of  Labor 

In  contrast  to  this  type  we  may  characterize  the  division 
of  labor  in  our  world  as  secularized.  New  occupations  are 
created  every  day,  and  the  concatenations  of  functions  of  old 

3.  North,  C.  C.  Social  Differentiation.  Chapel  Hill,  1926,  p.  255. 

[  28  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

ones  are  subject  to  change.  The  industrial  revolutions  of  every 
day  mean  to  the  individual  that  he  is  not  sure  of  his  job; 
or,  at  least,  that  one  is  not  sure  of  one's  son's  job.  This  is  true 
of  whole  regions,  as  well  as  of  individuals;  changes  in  transpor- 
tation, methods  of  production,  extension  of  the  frontiers  of 
commerce  do  violence  to  the  most  deeply  rooted  and  sacred 

Again  North  has  put  the  point  well: 

"The  discovery  of  new  territory  or  natural  resources, 
the  appearance  of  new  inventions  or  new  fields  of  industry, 
the  coming  of  war — all  tend  to  upset  the  old  arrangement 
and  make  for  an  exchange  of  places  on  the  social  ladder.  A 
high  state  of  intelligence  and  communication  will  make  it 
possible  for  individuals  to  pass  up  or  down  in  the  scale  ac- 
cording to  their  abilities  and  character."4 

Occupational  selection  becomes  a  major  process,  to  which 
social  organization  is  incidental.  This  selection  becomes  a 
fierce  process  which  begins  anew  each  day,  atomizing  families 
and  tearing  them  loose  from  their  soil. 

We  may  call  the  division  of  labor  "secularized"  both  in 
that  new  occupations  or  units  of  function  are  developed, 
which  are  not  hampered  by  tradition,  and  in  that  the  persons 
who  enter  the  occupation  come  without  very  definite,  tradi- 
tional notions  about  the  way  of  carrying  on  the  occupation.5 
We  shall  pursue  this  point  further  in  consideration  of  what 
the  occupational  selection  process  is  and  what  it  does  to 
the  person. 

Occupational  Selection 

In   his   recent  work,    Wirtchajtsleben   im   Zeitalter   des 

4.  Ibid. 

5.  Sombart,  Werner.  Das  Wirtschaftsleben  im  Zeitalter  des  Hochkapi- 
talismus  (Munich,  Duncker  &  Humblot,  1927).  Erster  Halbband,  p.  30. 
Sombart  states  that  "the  secularization  of  the  capitalistic  spirit  must  be  re- 
garded as  one  of  the  most  important  developments  of  modern  times."  It 
lets  anyone  try  anything. 


Hochkapitalismus,6  Sombart  has  made  his  major  theme  the 
selection  of  the  leaders  of  industry,  as  well  as  that  of  the 
proletariat.  The  chief  point  in  regard  to  the  former  is  that 
the  life-histories  of  a  very  large  percentage  of  them  show 
small  beginnings.  The  corporation  and  the  credit  system  have 
made  this  possible.  This  fact  of  democratization  does  not 
mean  an  increase  in  the  chances  of  the  person  of  low  degree 
to  rise  in  the  economic  and  social  scale  so  much  as  an  ac- 
celeration of  change,  the  disappearance  of  old  occupations, 
and  the  rise  of  new  ones.  Sombart  makes  this  clear  in  his 
consideration  of  the  sources  of  the  proletariat.  The  proletar- 
iat comes  from  the  ranks  of  those,  says  he,  who  have  been 
dislodged  from  their  traditional  places  on  the  soil,  and  from 
those  whose  birth  and  family  do  not  presume  for  them  any 
place  in  the  economic  system  except  a  place  which  the  individ- 
ual himself  may  find.  Selection  of  occupations  of  the  prole- 
tarian sort  depends  largely  on  time  and  place  availability, 
both  of  the  job  and  the  person  who  fills  it.  North  concludes7 
that  "the  determination  of  the  precise  task  that  most  individ- 
uals perform  within  the  larger  class  of  occupations  lies  in 
chiefly  local,  temporary,  and  fortuitous  circumstances."  The 
sum  total  of  conclusions  from  most  of  contemporary  discus- 
sion is  that  one  can  predict  neither  the  occupational  fate  of 
the  individual  nor  the  origin  of  the  person  who  will  next  fill 
a  given  job.  It  amounts  to  a  recognition  of  the  essentially 
complicated  nature  of  the  processes  involved. 

In  certain  types  of  occupations  the  process  can  be  ana- 
lyzed within  certain  limits;  as,  for  instance,  in  the  clergy  of 
evangelical  churches  where  one  needs  a  more  definite  "call" 
to  the  profession.  This  call  comes  more  frequently  to  rural 
youths  than  to  urban.  The  country  furnishes  the  ministers  for 
the  city.  Also  the  more  evangelical  churches  furnish  the 
ministers  for  the  less  evangelical.  The  Unitarian  denomination 

6.  Ibid.,  p.  19. 

7.  Op.  cit.,  p.  235. 

[  30  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

furnishes  practically  no  ministers,  but  must  recruit  its  prophets 
from  emancipated  ones  of  more  orthodox  denominations. 
The  occupation  of  the  parent  undoubtedly  has  certain  tenden- 
cies to  affect  that  of  the  children.  The  minister's  son,  for 
example,  has  a  flair  for  more  emancipated  occupations,  but 
still  retains  some  of  the  father's  tendency  to  appraise  rather 
than  participate  in  the  life  of  the  community.  Sociology  is 
full  of  ministers'  sons.  These  processes  of  selection  may  well 
be  studied  both  by  case  studies  of  occupations  and  of  families. 

The  Division  of  Labor  and 

The  Mobility  of  the  Person 

The  secularized  division  of  labor  is  a  most  powerful 
mobilizer  of  persons.  Durkheim  stated  this  fact  as  one  of 
the  first  order  of  importance  among  the  effects  of  an  increased 
division  of  labor  upon  social  life. 

"For  to  live  by  a  metier  one  must  have  clients,  and  he 
must  sally  forth  from  his  house  to  find  them;  he  must  sally 
forth  also  to  enter  into  relations  with  his  competitors,  to  strug- 
gle against  them,  and  to  converse  with  them.  Moreover, 
metiers  suppose  more  or  less  directly,  cities,  and  cities  are  al- 
ways formed  and  recruited  principally  by  means  of  immigrants 
who  have  quitted  their  milieu  natal."8 

The  persons  who  become  commodities  or  functionaries 
in  the  division  of  labor  have  been  reared  in  families.  In  the 
family  the  person  has  acquired  a  set  of  social  objects  and 
attitudes  more  or  less  common  to  the  community.  To  get 
into  the  occupational  world,  one  must  be  mobilized.  This 
mobilization,  according  to  its  degree,  implies  a  removal  from 

8.  Durkheim,  Emile.  De  la  division  du  travail  social.  Preface  a  la 
deuxieme  edition.  "Quelques  remarques  sur  les  groupements  profession- 
elles."  (Paris:  F.  Alcan,  1902.)  Translation  of  this  passage  by  ECH. 

See  subsequently  published  translation  by  George  Simpson:  The  Divi- 
sion of  Labor  in  Society.  1933,  and  1947. 


the  base  of  one's  morals.  The  study  of  The  Polish  Peasant  in 
Europe  and  America  (Thomas  and  Znaniecki)  shows  nothing 
more  clearly  than  that  this  removal  ends  in  radical  person- 
ality changes.  Eugenia  Remmelin,  in  her  unpublished  study 
of  Itinerants,  suggested  that  the  itinerant  is,  by  his  very 
itineracy,  cut  off  from  the  more  settled  world  over  which 
he  moves.  These  two  examples  represent,  respectively,  an 
extreme  of  initial  movement  and  an  extreme  in  degree  of 
mobility  in  a  given  type  of  occupation.  The  essential  fact  of 
the  mobilizing  of  the  person  for  participation  in  economic 
life  is  oniy  less,  not  different,  in  character  in  other  and  more 
common  cases.  The  process  of  finding  a  place  in  competition 
with  others  is  one  involving  a  great  deal  of  spatial  movement 
in  a  world  where  urbanization  is  proceeding  at  a  rapid  rate. 
Professor  Sorokin  gives  us  statistics  to  show  that  in  1920  one- 
third  of  the  people  of  the  United  States  lived  outside  the 
states  in  which  they  were  born.  He  assumed  that  the  number 
living  outside  the  communities  in  which  they  were  born  would 
be  much  higher.9 

The  general  circulation  of  population  over  the  face  of 
the  earth  is  continually  putting  individuals  in  countries  whose 
language  they  do  not  know,  and  in  whose  social  scheme  they 
have  no  place.  The  effect  of  this  mobilization  on  existing 
social  groups  is  called,  by  students  of  family  disorganization, 
atomizing  of  the  family.  Perhaps  it  does  not  completely  atom- 
ize the  family,  but  at  least  it  breaks  larger  kin  connections 
into  smaller  clusters  of  people  who  have  attained  about  the 
same  occupational  levels  and  styles  of  life. 

The  Catholic  clergy  probably  represents  the  most  com- 
plete removal  of  the  person  from  his  milieu  natal  for  profes- 
sional life.  In  a  West  Side  community  in  Chicago  the  writer 
became  acquainted  with  a  number  of  Irish  families  who  had 
sons  in  a  seminary.  In  each  case  the  attitude  of  the  family 
was  one  of  conflict  between  pride  at  the  son's  achievement 

9.  Sorokin,  P.  Social  Mobility  (New  York:  Harper  &  Bros.,  1927). 

[  32  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

and  heartbreak  because  of  losing  him.  To  quote  from  one 
father:  "The  wife  is  proud  of  the  boy.  But  he  breaks  her 
heart.  He  ain't  our  boy  any  more.  He  doesn't  talk  to  us  the 
same  way.  He  never  stays  home  long,  and  when  he  does 
he  seems  like  a  stranger.  We  are  going  to  keep  the  youngest 
home.  We  gave  two  to  the  church  already." 

The  very  process  of  making  a  priest  is  to  envelop  the 
candidate  in  the  ecclesiastical  world,  definitely  to  limit  even 
the  number  of  letters  he  can  write  to  his  family,  to  give  him 
a  new  formalized  language;  in  short,  to  make  a  new  person 
of  him,  with  new  definitions  of  his  wishes.  This  does  by 
discipline  what  sects  attempt  to  do  by  conversion;  namely, 
to  erase  the  person's  past  so  that  he  may  be  completely  mobil- 
ized for  carrying  out  his  mission. 

This  cutting  off  of  the  person  from  his  home  base  simul- 
taneously with  his  entrance  into  an  occupation,  with  his 
change  from  one  occupation  to  another,  or  even  from  one 
job  to  another,  is  that  characteristic  phenomenon  of  the 
modern  division  of  labor  which  carries  with  it  personality 
change.  The  change  is  ordinarily  more  casual  than  that  from 
layman  to  priest,  or  from  Pole  to  American.  It  may  begin 
with  a  move  from  a  rural  to  an  urban  community.  Even  if 
it  be  only  the  entrance  into  new  groups  in  one's  home  com- 
munity, it  may  lessen  the  contacts  with  the  family,  and  the 
part  of  the  family  in  determining  one's  social  attitudes. 

Classification  of  Units  in 

The  Division  of  Labor 

We  may  make  a  rough  classification  of  the  types  of  places 
in  the  division  of  labor  according  to  (i)  the  manner  in  which 
persons  enter,  (2)  the  attitude  of  the  person  to  his  occupa- 
tion, and  (3)  the  implied  standing  of  the  occupation  in  the 
eyes  of  the  community.  One  may  be  born  to  his  place.  There 
are  still  hereditary  titles  and  prerogatives.  Some  are  born  to 


a  life  of  leisure,  but  without  the  assumption  that  their  parents 
were  so  born,  or  that  the  person  may  be  assured  by  society 
of  this  position. 

1.  Those  occupations  to  which  a  person  is  called  or  con- 
verted we  may  call  missions.  The  more  violent  the  call  or 
conversion,  the  less  are  the  ethics  within  the  occupational 
group.  One  may  become  convinced  that  he  is  a  servant  with 
a  special  mission.  The  evangelist,  for  instance,  proselytizes 
from  the  congregations  of  regular  denominations;  for  these 
regular  denominations  have  departed  from  the  true  faith.  The 
missionary  easily  becomes  a  fanatic,  inspired  of  God,  having 
no  earthly  colleagues,  and  recognizing  no  one's  salvation  ex- 
cept his  own.  A  remnant  of  this  attitude  may  survive  in  old 
and  well-established  institutions.  The  Protestant  minister 
vaguely  hopes  to  convert  the  Catholics,  and  the  priest  re- 
joices over  one  Protestant  soul  brought  into  the  fold.  The 
missionary  belongs  to  a  cult,  whether  it  be  a  healing,  soul- 
saving,  Utopian  social  order  cult,  or  a  sacred  branch  of  learn- 
ing. Editors  of  organs  of  opinion  acquire  this  sense  of  a 
mission.  In  such  occupations  a  peculiar  language  and  meta- 
physics are  developed,  which  one  may  understand  only  when 
he  has  partaken  of  the  emotional  experience  common  to  the 

2.  The  professions  and  near-professions.  The  professions 
are  entered  by  long  training,  ordinarily  in  a  manner  pre- 
scribed by  the  profession  itself  and  sanctioned  by  the  state. 
The  training  is  assumed  to  be  necessary  to  learning  the  science 
and  technique  essential  to  practice  of  the  function  of  the 
profession.  The  training,  however,  carries  with  it  as  a  by- 
product assimilation  of  the  candidate  to  a  set  of  professional 
attitudes  and  controls,  a  professional  conscience  and  solidar- 
ity. The  profession  claims  and  aims  to  become  a  moral  unit. 
It  is  a  phenomenon  of  the  modern  city  that  an  increasing 
number  of  occupations  are  attempting  to  gain  for  themselves 
the  characteristics  and  status  of  professions. 

[  34  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

3.  The  enterprise  deals  with  a  commodity.  Sombart  makes 
the  point  that  the  entrepreneur  finds  his  function  changing 
almost  daily  in  the  modern  world.  If  he  enters  his  business 
with  the  sense  of  a  mission  or  of  preserving  some  value  to  the 
world,  he  is  in  danger  of  being  superseded  by  someone  less 
hampered  by  traditional  ideas.  To  carry  on  an  enterprise  it 
may  be  necessary  for  one  to  have  long  training  of  the  so-called 
"practical"  sort.  If  this  training  makes  the  person  unfit  to 
engage  in  other  enterprises,  he  becomes  something  of  a 

4.  The  arts  are  presumably  entered  by  a  combination  of 
a  special  talent  or  ability  plus  a  training  in  a  technique. 

5.  The  trades  are  very  close  to  the  arts;  so  close  that 
some  of  the  arts  are  associating  themselves  with  the  trades 
for  mutual  protection.  The  trade  is  entered  presumably  by 
the  acquisition  of  a  certain  skill. 

6.  Beyond  these  types  are  the  occupations  which  are 
called  jobs.  The  method  of  acquiring  a  job  of  the  more  casual 
sort  is  simply  to  present  one's  self  at  the  proper  time  and 
place  when  manpower  of  a  certain  age,  sex,  and  perhaps  a 
certain  grade  of  intelligence,  is  wanted.  The  hobo  himself, 
for  all  of  his  reputed  aversion  to  work,  has  an  occupation. 
There  are  certain  jobs  for  which  he  is  fitted  and  for  which 
he  is  wanted. 

All  of  these  classes  of  occupations  may  demand  a  degree 
of  mobility.  Certain  specialists  within  these  classes  are  espe- 
cially mobile,  as  casual  laborers,  actors,  ministers,  etc.  Others 
have  a  technique  or  skill  which  is  presumably  capable  of 
being  practiced  anywhere,  as  medicine;  but  medicine  as  ac- 
tually practiced  depends  on  local  and  personal  acquaintance. 
Others  are  limited  to  places  where  an  appreciative  client 
exists,  as  the  artist,  the  minister,  etc.  Another  important 
variable  in  occupations  is  the  nature  of  the  contact  of  its 
practitioners  with  each  other,  and  the  nature  of  competition. 


Social  Attitudes  and 
the  Division  of  Labor 

Within  some  occupations  there  may  be  persons  who  re- 
present any  one  of  the  foregoing  types  of  units  in  the  division 
of  labor.  Especially  is  this  true  in  the  world  of  business. 
These  different  degrees  of  devotion  to  the  business  or  to  one's 
function,  different  degrees  of  casuality,  status,  different 
degrees  of  sensitivity  to  one's  colleagues,  represent  different 
types.  In  the  individual  these  are  facts  of  his  life-organization 
and  of  his  personality. 

In  those  who  come  to  assume  the  professional  attitude 
the  occupation  is  represented  both  as  a  culture  and  a  tech- 
nique. The  technique  is  developed  with  reference  to  certain 
objects  or  activities.  The  technique  of  the  physician  is  in 
relation  to  the  human  body,  which  must  be  for  him  a  differ- 
ent sort  of  object  from  what  it  is  for  the  layman.  To  the 
layman  it  is  a  sacred  thing,  and  an  object  of  sentiment.  To 
the  real-estate  man,  real-estate  law  and  the  land  itself  are 
objects  of  technique.  If  he  opposes  change  in  real-estate  law, 
it  is  not  from  sentiment,  but  as  a  matter  of  policy.  In  relation 
to  its  technique  and  the  interests  of  those  who  use  that  tech- 
nique, the  occupational  group  tends  to  build  up  a  set  of 
collective  representations,  more  or  less  peculiar  to  the  occupa- 
tion and  more  or  less  incomprehensible  to  the  community. 
The  interests,  which  the  occupational  group  couches  in  a 
language  more  or  less  its  own,  are  the  basis  of  the  code  and 
policy  of  the  occupational  group.  The  code  is  the  occupation's 
prescribed  activity  of  the  individuals  within  toward  each 
other;  the  policy  represents  its  relation  to  the  community  in 
which  they  operate.  There  is  always  a  limit  to  the  degree  in 
which  the  code  and  policy  of  an  occupation  can  deviate  from 
the  general  culture  of  the  community.  Its  members  are  prod- 

[  36  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

ucts  of  a  lay  society.  The  practice  of  the  occupation  demands 
some  degree  of  social  sanction  by  the  outside  world. 

This  culture  and  technique,  the  etiquette  and  skill  of  the 
profession,  appear  in  the  individual  as  personal  traits.  The 
objects  become  to  the  individual  a  constellation  of  sacred 
and  secular  objects  and  attitudes.  In  general,  we  may  say 
that  the  longer  and  more  rigorous  the  period  of  initiation  into 
an  occupation,  the  more  culture  and  technique  are  associated 
with  it,  and  the  more  deeply  impressed  are  its  attitudes  upon 
the  person. 

Some  occupations  are  entered  into  and  left  so  casually 
that  no  collective  representations  develop.  But  the  casual 
worker  himself,  because  of  the  very  casual  nature  of  his  work, 
may  develop  certain  characteristic  traits.  Although  distinctly 
casual,  waitresses  seem  to  live  together  so  much  that  they 
have  developed  a  language  and  a  set  of  social  attitudes  pecul- 
iar to  themselves,  individualistic  though  they  be.10 

Personality  Types  on  the  Frontier 

The  essential  phenomenon  of  the  frontier  is  a  change  in 
the  division  of  labor.  By  extension  of  the  frontier  in  China 
or  India,  we  mean  that  those  countries  are  being  swept  into 
a  larger  division  of  labor  and  that  the  hitherto  local  and  self- 
sufficient  division  of  labor  is  being  destroyed  or  altered.  In 
India,  according  to  Messrs.  Joshi  and  Wadia  (Money  and 
the  Money  Market  in  India),  the  nexus  between  the  local 
world  of  India  and  the  outside  world  is  made  by  certain  half- 
caste  bankers  or  money-lenders,  the  mahajan  and  the  shroff, 
who  freely  swindle  the  Indian  peasant  and  who  translate  his 
crops  into  European  bank  credit.  A  Chinese  student  says 
there  is  a  similar  type  of  money-lender  in  China  who  literally 
sells  his  own  people  into  the  hands  of  the  outside  commercial 
world.  In  Western  Canada  Chinese  are  said  to  engage  in  the 

10.  Donovan,  op.  cit.,  p.  128. 


business  of  hiring  men  of  their  own  nationality  for  Canadian 
employers  of  labor.  These  are  personality  types  developed  in 
the  changing  division  of  labor  on  a  frontier.  Such  persons 
are  without  ethical  or  moral  precedent.  They  are  unscrup- 
ulous in  that  they  operate  to  undermine  the  social  and  econ- 
omic order  of  their  peoples. 

The  Person  in  the  New  Occupation 

In  his  paper  on  ecology  last  year  R.  D.  McF  nzie11  in- 
troduced the  concept,  "center  of  dominance."  Among  other 
things  the  center  of  dominance  is  the  place  of  a  very  great 
division  of  labor.  It  is,  likewise,  a  frontier  in  which  new 
occupational  types  develop.  Among  these  new  types  is  the 
man  of  finance,  for  the  center  of  dominance  is  a  center 
of  credit  and  finance.  Sombart  gives  us  a  picture  of  this 
new  type  of  man  who  upset  the  existing  order  and  brought 
in  modern  capitalism. 

"The  new  men  are  as  such  free  from  the  reference  to  the 
tradition  of  the  family,  of  the  business,  of  mercantile  cus- 
toms. Earlier  large  business  lay  mostly  in  the  hands  of  aristo- 
cratic families  with  seigneurial  tendencies,  who  shied  anx- 
iously before  unsound  changes  or  makeshifts,  who  held  the 
view  that  it  is  more  honorable  to  preserve  than  to  win,  who 
therefore  were  'neophobes,'  filled  with  a  predilection  for 
tradition.  That  the  customs  and  usages  which  regulated  the 
individual  merchant  in  his  behavior  were  very  strict  stands 
in  close  relationship  with  the  essentially  traditionally  minded 
entrepreneurship.  From  all  these  bonds  and  barriers  the  up- 
start is  free;  he  transforms  the  world  freely  according  to  his 
purpose.  .  .  .  The  old  families  live  in  the  continuity  of  busi- 
ness. .  .  .  The  new  men  are  unscrupulous."12 

When  this  new  type,  the  financier,  was  just  being  de- 

11.  McKenzie,  R.  D.,  "The  Concept  of  Dominance  and  World  Or- 
ganization," American  Journal  of  Sociology.  Vol.  XXXIII  (July,  1927) 
pp.  28-42. 

12.  Sombart,  op.  cit.,  p.  29. 

[  38  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

veloped,  he  was  unscrupulous  not  only  in  his  dealings  with 
the  outside  world,  but  toward  his  competitors  and  colleagues 
as  well.  The  biography  of  Daniel  Drew,13  an  early  operator 
on  Wall  Street,  tells  stories  of  boards  of  directors  of  cor- 
porations who  betrayed  the  very  companies  they  were  sup- 
posed to  represent.  The  life  of  Gary  by  Ida  Tarbell  tells 
something  of  the  same  story,  and  tells  of  the  etiquette  which 
in  course  of  time  this  new  element  in  economic  life  devel- 
oped for  their  protection.14  As  the  occupation  grows  older 
it  becomes  a  social  climber,  bidding  for  a  fixed  or  improved 
status  in  the  community.  The  individuals  in  the  occupation 
bear  the  marks  of  this  social  climbing.  Once  this  status  is 
gained,  the  individuals  in  it  become  "regulars,"  and  the 
persons  who  attempt  to  break  in  with  new  techniques  are 
in  turn  unscrupulous  upstarts. 

Types  in  the  Real  Estate  Business 

The  real  estate  business  is  a  comparatively  new  one.  In 
its  rather  brief  history  it  has  gone  through  part  of  the  cycle 
from  an  upstart,  unscrupulous  business  to  a  settled,  some- 
what respectable  one.  We  may  illustrate  the  types  of  per- 
sonality in  a  unit  of  the  division  of  labor  from  the  real  estate 
men  of  Chicago. 

The  realtor. — The  "realtor,"  or  regular  real  estate  man, 
represents  the  type  who  has  been  in  the  business  longest. 
He  thinks,  moves,  and  has  his  being  in  the  world  of  real 

13.  White,  Bouck.  The  Book  of  Daniel  Drew   (N.Y.,   1910). 

14.  Tarbell,  Ida.  The  Life  of  Elbert  H.  Gary  (N.Y.,  1925).  "Judge 
Gary  belongs  to  a  group  of  powerful  men  who  in  the  last  fifty  years  have 
led  in  the  creation  in  the  United  States  of  what  we  call  Big  Business.  The 
most  conspicuous  of  these  leaders  have  been  the  elder  Rockefeller  in  oil, 
the  elder  Morgan  in  banking,  E.  H.  Harriman  in  railroads,  and  in  the 
earlier  half  of  the  period,  Andrew  Carnegie  in  steel.  The  men  of  undoubted 
financial  and  commercial  genius  typified  certain  attitudes  of  mind  toward 
business  and  were  the  sponsors  of  practices  and  an  etiquette  essential  to 
understand  if  we  are  to  have  a  realizing  and  helpful  sense  of  the  actual 
development  and  meaning  and  potentiality  of  Big  Business." 


estate.  He  is  fairly  well  assimilated  to  a  code  of  real  estate 
ethics  or  practice,  supports  the  policies  which  the  leaders 
of  the  business  conceive  to  be  for  the  ultimate  welfare  of  the 
trade.  The  real  estate  board  is  his  club,  and  generally  his 
only  downtown  club.  It  is  among  his  fellows  there  that  he 
has  his  professional  or  business  status.  He  sponsors  action 
to  make  it  more  difficult  for  others  to  get  into  the  business 
and  into  the  board.  A  few  older  members  of  the  Chicago 
Real  Estate  Board  have  made  almost  a  mission  of  their  trade, 
and  in  so  doing  have  well-nigh  lost  their  business.  They  are 
occupationally  conscious  and  jealous.  Their  name  is  in- 
tended as  an  advertisement  of  their  place  in  the  real  estate 

The  real-estator. — The  member  of  the  Cook  County  Real 
Estate  Board  is  poorer  than  the  "realtor."  He  is  perhaps  less 
successful,  and  espouses  the  cause  of  democracy  in  real  estate. 
He  accuses  the  realtor  of  being  a  monopolist  and  a  repre- 
sentative of  "big  interests."  When  he  becomes  more  suc- 
cessful he  usually  becomes  a  "realtor." 

The  foreign-language  agent. — He  has  a  more  casual  con- 
nection with  the  real  estate  business.  He  gets  his  business  with 
people  of  his  own  nationality,  and  lives  in  part  by  accelerating 
foreign  invasions  of  native  communities.  The  collective  rep- 
resentations of  the  organized  real  estate  world  mean  nothing 
to  him.  He  lives  in  his  own  language  group  and  capitalizes 
his  acquaintance  with  this  group.  His  neighbors  are  his  clients. 

The  salesman. — The  salesman  is  the  casual  of  the  real 
estate  business.  His  services  are  enlisted  by  ads  which  assure 
the  prospect  that  no  experience  is  necessary.  According  to 
the  realtor,  the  salesman  is  the  lowest  order  of  the  real  estate 
man.  He  came  into  the  business  because  he  could  not  get 
a  job  elsewhere.  He  stays  only  long  enough  to  get  an  advance 
draft  on  commissions,  and  will  not  govern  his  occupational 
conduct  in  the  interests  of  his  employer  or  the  real  estate 
business  in  general.  Every  salesman  complains  of  mistreat- 

[  40  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

ment  by  his  former  employer  and  of  "dirty  deals"  given  him 
by  his  fellow-salesmen.  He  is  the  Ishmael  of  the  business; 
like  the  waitress,  he  accuses  his  fellows  of  having  stolen  his 
tips,  and  proceeds  to  steal  theirs.  He  considers  the  formu- 
lated codes  of  business  as  checks  upon  his  enterprise. 

The  promoter  or  boomer. — The  real  estate  business  in 
Chicago  started  in  a  land  boom;  the  heads  of  now  respect- 
able and  conservative  firms  were  once  boomers,  as  wild  in 
their  own  day  as  the  more  recent  boomers  of  Florida  and 
Muscle  Shoals.  The  boomer  of  today,  however,  is  to  them 
an  upstart.  He  takes  money  from  the  sacred  local  market. 
The  boomer,  in  turn,  calls  the  conservative  local  real  estate 
man  a  selfish,  short-sighted  pig.  This  boomer  or  promoter  is 
the  functionary  of  the  land  mania.  In  manner,  he  is  a  sales- 
man of  the  most  high-pressure  sort;  what  he  happens  to  be 
selling  at  the  moment  is  merely  incidental.  His  optimism 
turns  itself  with  facility  from  one  thing  to  another.  His  ethics 
are  immediate  expediency,  and  he  is  mobile,  changing  both 
the  subjects  and  objects  of  his  activity  frequently.  To  him, 
likewise,  restrictions  of  any  sort  put  upon  the  business  by 
law  or  the  trade  itself  are  a  handicap. 

The  center  of  the  real  estate  business  is  occupied  by  a 
group  of  men  whose  fortunes,  clientele,  and  standing  in  the 
business  are  more  or  less  secure.  They  are  no  longer  upstarts. 
Their  competitors  are  their  bosom  friends.  To  them,  their 
real  estate  board  has  become  almost  a  religious  organization; 
it  is  certainly  a  fraternity.  To  be  president  of  that  board  is 
an  objective  to  which  they  look  forward  when  they  are  well 
on  in  their  lives  and  careers.  One  could  name  a  group  of 
men  in  the  Chicago  Real  Estate  Board  who  considered  it  a 
religious  duty  to  attend  meetings  of  the  Board,  to  serve  on 
its  committees,  etc.  They  clearly  sought  status  nowhere  so 
much  as  in  their  business  group. 

Especially  when  an  occupation  develops  its  own  institu- 
tion for  control  of  the  occupation,   and  protection  of   its 


prerogatives,  is  it  likely  to  develop  what  we  may  call  a  cul- 
ture, an  etiquette,  and  a  group  within  which  one  may  attain 
the  satisfaction  of  his  wishes.  This  etiquette  may  be  more 
or  less  incomprehensible  to  the  outside,  or  lay,  world.  The 
hobo  or  casual,  on  the  other  hand,  develops  a  set  of  atti- 
tudes and  wishes  such  that  his  wishes  are  satisfied,  not  at  work, 
but  away  from  it.  He  is  none  the  less  sensitive  to  the  opin- 
ions of  people  of  his  own  occupational  sort,  and  he  undoubt- 
edly constitutes  a  personality  type. 

Work  and  the  Self 

There  are  societies  in  which  custom  or  sanctioned  rule 
determines  what  work  a  man  of  given  status  may  do.  In  our 
society,  at  least  one  strong  strain  of  ideology  has  it  that  a 
man  may  do  any  work  which  he  is  competent  to  do;  or  even 
that  he  has  a  right  to  the  schooling  and  experience  necessary 
to  gain  competence  in  any  kind  of  work  which  he  sets  as 
the  goal  of  his  ambition.  Equality  of  opportunity  is,  among 
us,  stated  very  much  in  terms  of  the  right  to  enter  upon  any 
occupation  whatsoever.  Although  we  do  not  practice  this 
belief  to  the  full,  we  are  a  people  who  cultivate  ambition.  A 
great  deal  of  our  ambition  takes  the  form  of  getting  training 
for  kinds  of  work  which  carry  more  prestige  than  that  which 
our  fathers  did.  Thus  a  man's  work  is  one  of  the  things  by 
which  he  is  judged,  and  certainly  one  of  the  more  significant 
things  by  which  he  judges  himself. 

Many  people  in  our  society  work  in  named  occupations. 
The  names  are  a  combination  of  price  tag  and  calling  card. 
One  has  only  to  hear  casual  conversation  to  sense  how  im- 
portant these  tags  are.  Hear  a  salesman,  who  has  just  been 
asked  what  he  does,  reply,  "I  am  in  sales  work,"  or  "I  am 

Rohrer,  John  H.,  and  Sherif,  M.  (editors),  Social  Psychology  at  the 
Crossroads.  New  York,  Harper  and  Bros.,  1951.  Pp.  313-323.  Reprinted 
with  permission. 


WORK   AND   THE   SELF  [  43  ] 

in  promotional  work,"  not  "I  sell  skillets."  Schoolteachers 
sometimes  turn  schoolteaching  into  educational  work,  and 
the  disciplining  of  youngsters  and  chaperoning  of  parties 
into  personnel  work.  Teaching  Sunday  School  becomes  reli- 
gious education,  and  the  Y.M.C.A.  Secretary  is  in  "group 
work."  Social  scientists  emphasize  the  science  end  of  their 
name.  These  hedging  statements  in  which  people  pick  the 
most  favorable  of  several  possible  names  of  their  work  imply 
an  audience.  And  one  of  the  most  important  things  about 
any  man  is  his  audience,  or  his  choice  of  the  several  available 
audiences  to  which  he  may  address  his  claims  to  be  someone 
of  worth. 

These  remarks  should  be  sufficient  to  call  it  to  your  at- 
tention that  a  man's  work  is  one  of  the  more  important  parts 
of  his  social  identity,  of  his  self;  indeed,  of  his  fate  in  the 
one  life  he  has  to  live,  for  there  is  something  almost  as  ir- 
revocable about  choice  of  occupation  as  there  is  about  choice 
of  a  mate.  And  since  the  language  about  work  is  so  loaded 
with  value  and  prestige  judgments,  and  with  defensive  choice 
of  symbols,  we  should  not  be  astonished  that  the  concepts 
of  social  scientists  who  study  work  should  carry  a  similar 
load,  for  the  relation  of  social-science  concepts  to  popular 
speech  remains  close  in  spite  of  our  efforts  to  separate  them. 
The  difference  is  that  while  the  value-weighting  in  popular 
speech  is  natural  and  proper,  for  concealment  and  ego-pro- 
tection are  of  the  essence  of  social  intercourse — in  scientific 
discourse  the  value-loaded  concept  may  be  a  blinder.  And 
part  of  the  problem  of  method  in  the  study  of  work  behavior 
is  that  the  people  who  have  the  most  knowledge  about  a 
given  occupation  (let  us  say  medicine),  and  from  whom  there- 
fore the  data  for  analysis  must  come,  are  the  people  in  the 
occupation.  They  may  combine  in  themselves  a  very  sophis- 
ticated manipulative  knowledge  of  the  appropriate  social  re- 
lations, with  a  very  strongly  motivated  suppression,  and  even 
repression,  of  the  deeper  truths   about  these  relationships, 

[  44  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

and,  in  occupations  of  higher  status,  with  great  verbal  skill 
in  keeping  these  relationships  from  coming  up  for  thought 
and  discussion  by  other  people.  This  is  done  in  part  by  the 
use  of  and  insistence  upon  loaded  value  words  where  their 
work  is  discussed. 

My  own  experience  in  study  of  occupations  illustrates 
the  point  that  concepts  may  be  blinders.  My  first  essay  into 
the  field  was  a  study  of  the  real  estate  agents  in  Chicago. 
These  highly  competitive  men  were  just  at  that  point  in  their 
journey  toward  respectability  at  which  they  wished  to  em- 
phasize their  conversion  from  business-minded  suspicion  of 
one  another  to  the  professional  attitude  of  confidence  in  each 
other  coupled  with  a  demand  for  confidence  from  the  public. 
I  started  the  study  with  the  idea  of  finding  out  an  answer  to 
this  familiar  question,  "Are  these  men  professionals?"  It 
was  a  false  question,  for  the  concept  "profession"  in  our  so- 
ciety is  not  so  much  a  descriptive  term  as  one  of  value  and 
prestige.  It  happens  over  and  over  that  the  people  who  prac- 
tice an  occupation  attempt  to  revise  the  conceptions  which 
their  various  publics  have  of  the  occupation  and  of  the  people 
in  it.  In  so  doing,  they  also  attempt  to  revise  their  own  con- 
ception of  themselves  and  of  their  work.  The  model  which 
these  occupations  set  before  themselves  is  that  of  the  "profes- 
sion"; thus  the  term  profession  is  a  symbol  for  a  desired 
conception  of  one's  work  and,  hence,  of  one's  self.  The  move- 
ment to  "professionalize"  an  occupation  is  thus  collective 
mobility  of  some  among  the  people  in  an  occupation.  One 
aim  of  the  movement  is  to  rid  the  occupation  of  people  who 
are  not  mobile  enough  to  go  along  with  the  changes. 

There  are  two  kinds  of.  occupational  mobility.  One  is 
individual.  The  individual  makes  the  several  choices,  and 
achieves  the  skills  which  allow  him  to  move  to  a  certain  posi- 
tion in  the  occupational,  and  thus — he  hopes — in  the  social 
and  economic  hierarchy.  His  choice  is  limited  by  several 
conditions,  among  which  is  the  social  knowledge  available 

WORK  AND   THE   SELF  [  45  ] 

to  him  at  the  time  of  crucial  decision,  a  time  which  varies 
for  the  several  kinds  of  work. 

The  other  kind  of  occupational  mobility  is  that  of  a  group 
of  people  in  an  occupation,  i.e.,  of  the  occupation  itself.  This 
has  been  important  in  our  society  with  its  great  changes  of 
technology,  with  its  attendant  proliferation  of  new  occupa- 
tions and  of  change  in  the  techniques  and  social  relations 
of  old  ones.  Now  it  sometimes  happens  that  by  the  time  a 
person  has  the  full  social  knowledge  necessary  to  the  smart- 
est possible  choice  of  occupations,  he  is  already  stuck  with 
one  and  in  one.  How  strongly  this  may  affect  the  drive  for 
professionalization  of  occupations,  I  don't  know.  I  suspect 
that  it  is  a  motive.  At  any  rate,  it  is  common  in  our  society 
for  occupational  groups  to  step  their  occupation  up  in  the 
hierarchy  by  turning  it  into  a  profession.  I  will  not  here 
describe  this  process.  Let  me  only  indicate  that  in  my  own 
studies  I  passed  from  the  false  question  "Is  this  occupation 
a  profession?"  to  the  more  fundamental  one,  "What  are  the 
circumstances  in  which  the  people  in  an  occupation  attempt  to 
turn  it  into  a  profession,  and  themselves  into  professional 
people?"  and  "What  are  the  steps  by  which  they  attempt  to 
bring  about  identification  with  their  valued  model?" 

Even  with  this  new  orientation  the  term  profession  acted 
as  a  blinder.  For  as  I  began  to  give  courses  and  seminars 
on  occupations,  I  used  a  whole  set  of  concepts  and  headings 
which  were  prejudicial  to  full  understanding  of  what  work 
behavior  and  relations  are.  One  of  them  was  that  of  the  "code 
of  ethics,"  which  still  tended  to  sort  people  into  the  good 
and  the  bad.  It  was  not  until  I  had  occasion  to  undertake 
study  of  race  relations  in  industry  that  I  finally,  I  trust,  got 
rid  of  this  bias  in  the  concepts  which  I  used.  Negro  indus- 
trial workers,  the  chief  objects  of  our  study,  performed  the 
kinds  of  work  which  have  least  prestige  and  which  make  least 
pretension;  yet  it  turned  out  that  even  in  the  lowest  occupa- 
tions people  do  develop  collective  pretensions  to  give  their 

[  46  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

work,  and  consequently  themselves,  value  in  the  eyes  of  each 
other  and  of  outsiders. 

It  was  from  these  people  that  we  learned  that  a  common 
dignifying  rationalization  of  people  in  all  positions  of  a  work 
hierarchy  except  the  very  top  one  is,  "We  in  this  position 
save  the  people  in  the  next  higher  position  above  from  their 
own  mistakes."  The  notion  that  one  saves  a  person  of  more 
acknowledged  skill,  and  certainly  of  more  acknowledged 
prestige  and  power,  than  one's  self  from  his  mistakes  appears 
to  be  peculiarly  satisfying.  Now  there  grow  up  in  work  or- 
ganizations rules  of  mutual  protection  among  the  persons 
in  a  given  category  and  rank,  and  across  ranks  and  categories. 
If  one  uses  the  term  "code  of  ethics"  he  is  likely  not  to  see 
the  true  nature  of  these  rules.  These  rules  have  of  necessity 
to  do  with  mistakes,  for  it  is  in  the  nature  of  work  that  people 
make  mistakes.  The  question  of  how  mistakes  are  handled  is 
a  much  more  penetrating  one  than  any  question  which  con- 
tains the  concept  "professional  ethics"  as  ordinarily  con- 
ceived. For  in  finding  out  how  mistakes  are  handled,  one 
must  get  at  the  fundamental  psychological  and  social  devices 
by  which  people  are  able  to  carry  on  through  time,  to  live 
with  others  and  with  themselves,  knowing  that  what  is  daily 
routine  for  them  in  their  occupational  roles  may  be  fateful 
for  others,  knowing  that  one's  routine  mistakes,  even  the  mis- 
takes by  which  one  learns  better,  may  touch  other  lives  at 
crucial  points.  It  is  in  part  the  problem  of  dealing  routinely 
with  what  are  the  crises  of  others.  The  people  in  lower  ranks 
are  thus  using  a  powerful  psychological  weapon  when  they 
rationalize  their  worth  and  indispensability  as  lying  in  their 
protection  of  people  in  higher  ranks  from  their  mistakes.  I 
suppose  it  is  almost  a  truism  that  the  people  who  take  the 
larger  responsibilities  must  be  people  who  can  face  making 
mistakes,  while  punctiliousness  must  remain  in  second  place. 
But  this  is  a  matter  which  has  not  been  very  seriously  taken 

WORK  AND   THE   SELF  [  47  ] 

into  account,  as  far  as  I  know,  in  studies  of  the  social  drama 
of  work. 

Of  course,  the  rules  which  people  make  to  govern  their 
behavior  at  work  cover  other  problems  than  that  of  mistakes. 
Essentially  the  rules  classify  people,  for  to  define  situations 
and  the  proper  behavior  in  situations  one  has  to  assign  roles 
to  the  people  involved.  Among  the  most  important  subject 
matter  of  rules  is  the  setting  up  of  criteria  for  recognizing 
a  true  fellow-worker,  for  determining  who  it  is  safe  and 
maybe  even  necessary  to  initiate  into  the  in-group  of  close 
equals,  and  who  must  be  kept  at  some  distance.  This  prob- 
lem is  apt  to  be  obscured  by  the  term  "colleagueship,"  which, 
although  its  etymology  is  perfect  for  the  matter  in  hand, 
carries  a  certain  notion  of  higher  status,  of  respectability. 
(In  pre-Hitler  Germany  the  Social-Democratic  workers  called 
one  another  "Comrade."  The  Christian  trade-unions  insisted 
on  the  term  "Colleague.") 

Allow  me  to  mention  one  other  value-laden  term  which 
may  act  as  a  blinder  in  study  of  the  social  psychology  of 
work,  to  wit,  "restriction  of  production."  This  term  contains 
a  value  assumption  of  another  kind — namely,  that  there  is 
someone  who  knows  and  has  a  right  to  determine  the  right 
amount  of  work  for  other  people  to  do.  If  one  does  less,  he 
is  restricting  production.  Mayo1  and  others  have  done  a 
good  deal  to  analyze  the  phenomenon  in  question,  but  it  was 
Max  Weber2  who — forty  years  ago — pointed  to  "putting 
on  the  brakes,"  as  an  inevitable  result  of  the  wrestling  match 
between  a  man  and  his  employer  over  the  price  he  must  pay 
with  his  body  for  his  wage.  In  short,  he  suggested  that  no 
man  easily  yields  to  another  full  control  over  the  amount 

1.  Mayo,  Elton,  W.  Human  Problems  of  an  Industrial  Civilization. 
New  York,  1933. 

2.  Weber,  Max,  "Zur  Psychophysik  der  industriellen  Arbeit,"  in  Gesam- 
melte  Aufsatze  zur  Soziologie  und  Sozialpolitik.  Tubingen,  1924.  Pp. 

[  48  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

of  effort  he  must  daily  exert.  On  the  other  hand,  there  is  no 
more  characteristically  human  phenomenon  than  determined 
and  even  heroic  effort  to  do  a  task  which  one  has  taken  as 
his  own.  I  do  not  mean  to  make  the  absurd  implication  that 
there  could  be  a  situation  in  which  every  man  would  be  his 
own  and  only  taskmaster.  But  I  think  we  might  better  under- 
stand the  social  interaction  which  determines  the  measure 
of  effort  if  we  keep  ourselves  free  of  terms  which  suggest 
that  it  is  abnormal  to  do  less  than  one  is  asked  by  some 
reasonable  authority. 

You  will  have  doubtless  got  the  impression  that  I  am 
making  the  usual  plea  for  a  value-free  science,  that  is,  for 
neutrality.  Such  is  not  my  intention.  Our  aim  is  to  penetrate 
more  deeply  into  the  personal  and  social  drama  of  work, 
to  understand  the  social  and  social-psychological  arrange- 
ments and  devices  by  which  men  make  their  work  tolerable, 
or  even  glorious  to  themselves  and  others.  I  believe  that  much 
of  our  terminology  and  hence,  of  our  problem  setting,  has 
limited  our  field  of  perception  by  a  certain  pretentiousness 
and  a  certain  value-loading.  Specifically  we  need  to  rid  our- 
selves of  any  concepts  which  keep  us  from  seeing  that  the 
essential  problems  of  men  at  work  are  the  same  whether  they 
do  their  work  in  some  famous  laboratory  or  in  the  messiest 
vat  room  of  a  pickle  factory.  Until  we  can  find  a  point  of 
view  and  concepts  which  will  enable  us  to  make  comparisons 
between  the  junk  peddler  and  the  professor  without  intent 
to  debunk  the  one  and  patronize  the  other,  we  cannot  do 
our  best  work  in  this  field. 

Perhaps  there  is  as  much  to  be  learned  about  the  high- 
prestige  occupations  by  applying  to  them  the  concepts  which 
naturally  come  to  mind  for  study  of  people  in  the  most  lowly 
kinds  of  work  as  there  is  to  be  learned  by  applying  to  other 
occupations  the  conceptions  developed  in  connection  with 
the  highly-valued  professions.  Furthermore,  I  have  come  to 
the  conclusion  that  it  is  a  fruitful  thing  to  start  study  of  any 

WORK  AND   THE   SELF  [  49  ] 

social  phenomenon  at  the  point  of  least  prestige.  For,  since 
prestige  is  so  much  a  matter  of  symbols,  and  even  of  preten- 
sions— however  well  merited — there  goes  with  prestige  a 
tendency  to  preserve  a  front  which  hides  the  inside  of  things; 
a  front  of  names,  of  indirection,  of  secrecy  (much  of  it  nec- 
essary secrecy).  On  the  other  hand,  in  things  of  less  prestige, 
the  core  may  be  more  easy  of  access. 

In  recent  years  a  number  of  my  students  have  studied 
some  more  or  less  lowly  occupations:  apartment-house  jani- 
tors, junk  men,  boxers,  jazz  musicians,  osteopaths,  pharma- 
cists, etc.  They  have  done  so  mainly  because  of  their  own 
connections  with  the  occupations  in  question,  and  perhaps 
because  of  some  problem  of  their  own.  At  first,  I  thought  of 
these  studies  as  merely  interesting  and  informative  for  what 
they  would  tell  about  people  who  do  these  humbler  jobs, 
i.e.,  as  American  ethnology.  I  have  now  come  to  the  belief 
that  although  the  problems  of  people  in  these  lines  of  work 
are  as  interesting  and  important  as  any  other,  their  deeper 
value  lies  in  the  insights  they  yield  about  work  behavior  in 
any  and  all  occupations.  It  is  not  that  it  puts  one  into  the 
position  to  debunk  the  others,  but  simply  that  processes  which 
are  hidden  in  other  occupations  come  more  readily  to  view 
in  these  lowly  ones.  We  may  be  here  dealing  with  a  funda- 
mental matter  of  method  in  social  science,  that  of  finding 
the  best  possible  laboratory  for  study  of  a  given  series  of 

Let  me  illustrate.  The  apartment-house  janitor  is  a  fellow 
who,  in  making  his  living,  has  to  do  a  lot  of  other  people's 
dirty  work.  This  is  patent.  He  could  not  hide  it  if  he  would. 
Now  every  occupation  is  not  one  but  several  activities;  some 
of  them  are  the  "dirty  work"  of  that  trade.  It  may  be  dirty 
in  one  of  several  ways.  It  may  be  simply  physically  disgust- 
ing. It  may  be  a  symbol  of  degradation,  something  that  wounds 
one's  dignity. 

Finally,  it  may  be  dirty  work  in  that  it  in  some  way  goes 

[  50  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

counter  to  the  more  heroic  of  our  moral  conceptions.  Dirty 
work  of  some  kind  is  found  in  all  occupations.  It  is  hard  to 
imagine  an  occupation  in  which  one  does  not  appear,  in  cer- 
tain repeated  contingencies,  to  be  practically  compelled  to 
play  a  role  of  which  he  thinks  he  ought  to  be  a  little  ashamed. 
Insofar  as  an  occupation  carries  with  it  a  self-conception, 
a  notion  of  personal  dignity,  it  is  likely  that  at  some  point 
one  will  feel  that  he  is  having  to  do  something  that  is  infra 
dignitate.  Janitors  turned  out  to  be  bitterly  frank  about  their 
physically  dirty  work.  When  asked,  "What  is  the  toughest 
part  of  your  job,"  they  answered  almost  to  a  man  in  the 
spirit  of  this  quotation:  "Garbage.  Often  the  stuff  is  sloppy 
and  smelly.  You  know  some  fellows  can't  look  at  garbage  if 
it's  sloppy.  I'm  getting  used  to  it  now,  but  it  almost  killed 
me  when  I  started."  Or  as  another  put  it,  "The  toughest 
part?  It's  the  messing  up  in  front  of  the  garbage  incinerator. 
That's  the  most  miserable  thing  there  is  on  this  job.  The 
tenants  don't  co-operate — them  bastards.  You  tell  them  to- 
day, and  tomorrow  there  is  the  same  mess  over  again  by  the 

In  the  second  quotation  it  becomes  evident  that  the 
physical  disgust  of  the  janitor  is  not  merely  a  thing  between 
him  and  the  garbage,  but  involves  the  tenant  also.  Now  the 
tenant  is  the  person  who  impinges  most  on  the  daily  activity 
of  the  janitor.  It  is  the  tenant  who  interferes  most  with  his 
own  dignified  ordering  of  his  life  and  work.  If  it  were  not 
for  a  tenant  who  had  broken  a  window,  he  could  have  got 
his  regular  Sunday  cleaning  done  on  time;  if  it  were  not  for 
a  tenant  who  had  clogged  a  trap,  he  would  not  have  been 
ignominiously  called  away  from  the  head  of  his  family  table 
just  when  he  was  expansively  offering  his  wife's  critical  rela- 
tives a  second  helping  of  porkchops,  talking  the  while  about 
the  importance  of  his  job.  It  is  the  tenant  who  causes  the 
janitor's  status  pain.  The  physically  disgusting  part  of  the 

WORK   AND   THE   SELF  [51] 

janitor's  work  is  directly  involved  in  his  relations  with  other 
actors  in  his  work  drama.3 

By  a  contre  coup,  it  is  by  the  garbage  that  the  janitor 
judges,  and,  as  it  were,  gets  power  over  the  tenants  who  high- 
hat  him.  Janitors  know  about  hidden  love-affairs  by  bits 
of  torn-up  letter  paper;  of  impending  financial  disaster  or 
of  financial  four-flushing  by  the  presence  of  many  unopened 
letters  in  the  waste.  Or  they  may  stall  off  demands  for  im- 
mediate service  by  an  unreasonable  woman  of  whom  they 
know  from  the  garbage  that  she,  as  the  janitors  put  it,  "has 
the  rag  on."  The  garbage  gives  the  janitor  the  makings  of 
a  kind  of  magical  power  over  that  pretentious  villain,  the 
tenant.  I  say  a  kind  of  magical  power,  for  there  appears  to 
be  no  thought  of  betraying  any  individual  and  thus  turning 
this  knowledge  into  overt  power.  He  protects  the  tenant,  but, 
at  least  among  Chicago  janitors,  it  is  not  a  loving  protection. 

Let  your  mind  dwell  on  what  one  might  hear  from  people 
in  certain  other  occupations  if  they  were  to  answer  as  frankly 
and  bitterly  as  did  the  janitors.  I  do  not  say  nor  do  I  think 
that  it  would  be  a  good  thing  for  persons  in  all  occupations 
to  speak  so  freely  on  physical  disgust  as  did  these  men.  To 
do  so,  except  in  the  most  tightly  closed  circles,  would  create 
impossible  situations.  But  we  are  likely  to  overlook  the  mat- 
ter altogether  in  studying  occupations  where  concealment  is 
practiced,  and  thus  get  a  false  notion  of  the  problems  which 
have  to  be  faced  in  such  occupations,  and  of  the  possible 
psychological  and  social  by-products  of  the  solutions  which 
are  developed  for  the  problem  of  disgust. 

Now  the  delegation  of  dirty  work  to  someone  else  is 
common  among  humans.  Many  cleanliness  taboos,  and  per- 
haps even  many  moral  scruples,  depend  for  their  practice 
upon  success  in  delegating  the  tabooed  activity  to  someone 

3.  Gold,  Ray,  "Janitors  vs.  Tenants;  a  status-income  Dilemma,"   The 
American  Journal  of  Sociology,  LVII  (March,  1952),  pp.  487-493. 

[  52  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

else.  Delegation  of  dirty  work  is  also  a  part  of  the  process  of 
occupational  mobility.  Yet  there  are  kinds  of  work,  some  of 
them  of  very  high  prestige,  in  which  such  delegation  is  pos- 
sible only  to  a  limited  extent.  The  dirty  work  may  be  an 
intimate  part  of  the  very  activity  which  gives  the  occupation 
its  charism,  as  is  the  case  with  the  handling  of  the  human 
body  by  the  physician.  In  this  case,  I  suppose  the  dirty  work 
is  somehow  integrated  into  the  whole,  and  into  the  prestige- 
bearing  role  of  the  person  who  does  it.  What  role  it  plays  in 
the  drama  of  work  relations  in  such  a  case  is  something  to 
find  out.  The  janitor,  however,  does  not  integrate  his  dirty 
work  into  any  deeply  satisfying  definition  of  his  role  that 
might  liquidate  his  antagonism  to  the  people  whose  dirt  he 
handles.  Incidentally,  we  have  found  reason  to  believe  that 
one  of  the  deeper  sources  of  antagonisms  in  hospitals  is  the 
belief  of  the  people  in  the  humblest  jobs  that  the  physician 
in  charge  calls  upon  them  to  do  his  dirty  work  in  the  name 
of  the  role  of  "healing  the  sick,"  although  none  of  the  pres- 
tige and  little  of  the  money  reward  of  that  role  reaches  them. 
Thus  we  might  conceive  of  a  classification  of  occupations 
involving  dirty  work  into  those  in  which  it  is  knit  into  some 
satisfying  and  prestige-giving  definition  of  role  and  those 
in  which  it  is  not.  I  suppose  we  might  think  of  another  classi- 
fication into  those  in  which  the  dirty  work  seems  somehow 
wilfully  put  upon  one  and  those  in  which  it  is  quite  uncon- 
nected with  any  person  involved  in  the  work  drama. 

There  is  a  feeling  among  prison  guards  and  mental-hos- 
pital attendants  that  society  at  large  and  their  superiors  hypo- 
critically put  upon  them  dirty  work  which  they,  society,  and 
the  superiors  in  prison  and  hospital  know  is  necessary  but 
which  they  pretend  is  not  necessary.  Here  it  takes  the  form, 
in  the  minds  of  people  in  these  two  lowly  occupations,  of 
leaving  them  to  cope  for  twenty-four  hours,  day  in  and  day 
out,  with  inmates  whom  the  public  never  has  to  see  and 
whom  the  people  at  the  head  of  the  organization  see  only 

WORK   AND   THE   SELF  [  53  ] 

episodically.  There  is  a  whole  series  of  problems  here  which 
cannot  be  solved  by  some  miracle  of  changing  the  social  se- 
lection of  those  who  enter  the  job  (which  is  the  usual  unreal- 
istic solution  for  such  cases). 

And  this  brings  us  to  the  brief  consideration  of  what  one 
may  call  the  social  drama  of  work.  Most  kinds  of  work  bring 
people  together  in  definable  roles;  thus  the  janitor  and  the 
tenant,  the  doctor  and  the  patient,  the  teacher  and  the  pupil, 
the  worker  and  his  foreman,  the  prison  guard  and  the  prisoner, 
the  musician  and  his  listener.  In  many  occupations  there  is 
some  category  of  persons  with  whom  the  people  at  work  regu- 
larly come  into  crucial  contact.  In  some  occupations  the 
most  crucial  relations  are  those  with  one's  fellow-workers. 
It  is  they  who  can  do  most  to  make  life  sweet  or  sour.  Often, 
however,  it  is  the  people  in  some  other  position.  And  in  many 
there  is  a  category  of  persons  who  are  the  consumers  of  one's 
work  or  services.  It  is  probable  that  the  people  in  the  occu- 
pation will  have  a  chronic  fight  for  status,  for  personal  dig- 
nity with  this  group  of  consumers  of  their  services.  Part  of 
the  social  psychological  problem  of  the  occupation  is  the 
maintenance  of  a  certain  freedom  and  social  distance  from 
these  people  most  crucially  and  intimately  concerned  with 
one's  work. 

In  a  good  deal  of  our  talk  about  occupations  we  imply 
that  the  tension  between  the  producer  and  consumer  of  serv- 
ices is  somehow  a  matter  of  ill-will  or  misunderstandings 
which  easily  might  be  removed.  It  may  be  that  it  lies  a  good 
deal  deeper  than  that.  Often  there  is  a  certain  ambivalence 
on  the  side  of  the  producer,  which  may  be  illustrated  by  the 
case  of  the  professional  jazz-musicians.  The  musician  wants 
jobs  and  an  income.  He  also  wants  his  music  to  be  appre- 
ciated, but  to  have  his  living  depend  upon  the  appreciation 
does  not  entirely  please  him.  For  he  likes  to  think  himself 
and  other  musicians  the  best  judges  of  his  playing.  Tc  play 
what  pleases  the  audience — the  paying  customers,  who  are 

[  54  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

not,  in  his  opinion,  good  judges — is  a  source  of  annoyance. 
It  is  not  merely  that  the  listeners,  having  poor  taste,  demand 
that  he  play  music  which  he  does  not  think  is  the  best  he 
can  do;  even  when  they  admire  him  for  playing  in  his  own 
sweet  way,  he  doesn't  like  it,  for  then  they  are  getting  too 
close — they  are  impinging  on  his  private  world  too  much. 
The  musicians  accordingly  use  all  sorts  of  little  devices  to 
keep  a  line  drawn  between  themselves  and  the  audience; 
such  as  turning  the  musicians'  chairs,  in  a  dance  hall  without 
platform,  in  such  a  way  as  to  make  something  of  a  barrier.4 
*4  It  is  characteristic  of  many  occupations  that  the  people  in 
them,  although  convinced  that  they  themselves  are  the  best 
judges,  not  merely  of  their  own  competence  but  also  of  what 
is  best  for  the  people  for  whom  they  perform  services,  are 
required  in  some  measure  to  yield  judgment  of  what  is  wanted 
to  these  amateurs  who  receive  the  services.  This  is  a  prob- 
lem not  only  among  musicians,  but  in  teaching,  medicine, 
dentistry,  the  arts,  and  many  other  fields.  It  is  a  chronic 
source  of  ego-wound  and  possibly  of  antagonism. 

Related  to  this  is  the  problem  of  routine  and  emergency. 
In  many  occupations,  the  workers  or  practitioners  (to  use 
both  a  lower  and  a  higher  status  term)  deal  routinely  with 
what  are  emergencies  to  the  people  who  receive  their  serv- 
ices. This  is  a  source  of  chronic  tension  between  the  two. 
For  the  person  with  the  crisis  feels  that  the  other  is  trying 
to  belittle  his  trouble;  he  does  not  take  it  seriously  enough. 
His  very  competence  comes  from  having  dealt  with  a  thou- 
sand cases  of  what  the  client  likes  to  consider  his  unique 
trouble.  The  worker  thinks  he  knows  from  long  experience 
that  people  exaggerate  their  troubles.  He  therefore  builds 
up  devices  to  protect  himself,  to  stall  people  off.  This  is  the 
function  of  the  janitor's  wife  when  a  tenant  phones  an  appeal 

4.  Becker,  Howard  S.  "The  Professional  Dance  Musician  and  his 
Audience,"  The  American  Journal  of  Sociology,  LVII  (September,  1951), 
pp.  136-144. 

WORK  AND   THE   SELF  [  55  ] 

or  a  demand  for  immediate  attention  to  a  leaky  tap;  it  is 
also  the  function  of  the  doctor's  wife  and  even  sometimes 
of  the  professor's  wife.  The  physician  plays  one  emergency 
off  against  the  other;  the  reason  he  can't  run  right  up  to  see 
Johnny  who  may  have  the  measles  is  that  he  is,  unfortunately, 
right  at  that  moment  treating  a  case  of  the  black  plague. 
Involved  in  this  is  something  of  the  struggle  mentioned  above 
in  various  connections,  the  struggle  to  maintain  some  control 
over  one's  decisions  of  what  work  to  do,  and  over  the  dispo- 
sition of  one's  time  and  of  one's  routine  of  life.  It  would  be 
interesting  to  know  what  the  parish  priest  thinks  to  himself 
when  he  is  called  for  the  tenth  time  to  give  extreme  unction 
to  the  sainted  Mrs.  O'Flaherty  who  hasn't  committed  a  sin 
in  years  except  that  of  being  a  nuisance  to  the  priest,  in  her 
anxiety  over  dying  in  a  state  of  sin.  On  Mrs.  O'Flaherty's 
side  there  is  the  danger  that  she  might  die  unshriven,  and 
she  has  some  occasion  to  fear  that  the  people  who  shrive 
may  not  take  her  physical  danger  seriously  and  hence  may 
not  come  quickly  enough  when  at  last  her  hour  has  come. 
There  may  indeed  be  in  the  minds  of  the  receivers  of  emer- 
gency services  a  resentment  that  something  so  crucial  to 
them  can  be  a  matter  of  a  cooler  and  more  objective  attitude, 
even  though  they  know  perfectly  well  that  such  an  attitude 
is  necessary  to  competence,  and  though  they  could  not  stand 
it  if  the  expert  to  whom  they  take  their  troubles  were  to 
show  any  signs  of  excitement. 

Institutional  Office 
and  The  Person 

The  conscious  fulfilling  of  formally  defined  offices  dis- 
tinguishes social  institutions  from  more  elementary  collective 
phenomena.  This  paper  will  discuss  the  nature  of  institu- 
tional offices  and  their  relations  to  the  peculiar  roles  and 
careers  of  persons.1 

Office  and  Role 

Sumner  insisted  that  the  mores  differentiate,  as  well  as 
standardize,  behavior,  for  status  lies  in  them.2  Status  assigns 
individuals  to  various  accepted  social  categories;  each  cate- 
gory has  its  own  rights  and  duties.  No  individual  becomes  a 
moral  person  until  he  has  a  sense  of  his  own  station  and 
the  ways  proper  to  it.  Status,  in  its  active  and  conscious 
aspect,  is  an  elementary  form  of  office.  An  office  is  a  stand- 

The  American  Journal  of  Sociology,  Vol.  XLIII  (November,  1937), 
pp.  404-413.  Reprinted  with  permission. 

1.  W.  G.  Sumner,  The  Folkways  (Boston,  1906),  pars.  40,  41,  56,  61, 
63,  67,  et  passim;  C.  H.  Cooley,  Social  Organization  (New  York,  1909), 
chaps,  iii,  xxviii;  E.  Faris,  "The  Primary  Group:  Essence  and  Accident,' 
American  Journal  of  Sociology,  XXXVIII  (July,  1932),  41-50. 

2.  Op.  cit.,  par.  73. 



ardized  group  of  duties   and  privileges   devolving   upon   a 
person  in  certain  defined  situations. 

In  current  writing  on  the  development  of  personality,  a 
great  deal  is  made  of  social  role.  What  is  generally  meant  is 
that  the  individual  gets  some  consistent  conception  of  himself 
in  relation  to  other  people.  This  conception,  although  identified 
with  one's  self  as  a  unique  being,  is  a  social  product;  Cooley 
would  have  said,  a  product  of  primary  group  life.  But  role, 
however  individual  and  unique,  does  not  remain  free  of  status. 
Indeed,  Linton  says  "a  role  is  the  dynamic  aspect  of  a  status."3 
Role  is  dynamic,  but  it  is  also  something  more  than  status. 
Status  refers  only  to  that  part  of  one's  role  which  has  a  stand- 
ard definition  in  the  mores  or  in  law.  A  status  is  never  pecu- 
liar to  the  individual;  it  is  historic.  The  person,  in  status  and 
in  institutional  office,  is  identified  with  an  historic  role.  The 
peculiar  role  of  a  prophet  or  a  political  leader  may  be  trans- 
formed into  the  historic  role  or  office  of  priesthood  or  king- 
ship. Every  office  has  had  a  history,  in  which  the  informal 
and  unique  have  become  formal  and  somewhat  impersonal. 
The  story  of  an  institution  might  well  be  told  in  terms  of 
the  growth  of  its  offices,  with  which  have  been  identified  the 
personal  roles  of  series  of  individuals. 

Entrance  into  a  status  is  not  always  a  matter  of  choice. 
That  does  not  prevent  persons  from  being  aware  that  they 
are  entering  it,  from  focusing  their  wills  upon  it,  or  from 
fulfilling  the  attendant  obligations  with  consciously  varying 
degrees  of  skill  and  scruple.  Status  gives  self-consciousness  X 
and  the  conscience  something  to  bite  on.4 

3.  Ralph  Linton,  The  Study  of  Man  (New  York,  1936),  chap,  viii, 
"Status  and  Role." 

4.  B.  Malinowski,  in  Crime  and  Custom  in  Savage  Society  (London, 
1926),  chap  v  et  passim,  attacks  the  notion,  so  prominent  in  evolutionary 
social  theory,  that  the  member  of  a  primitive  society  adheres  to  custom 
unconsciously  and  automatically.  He  maintains  that  among  the  Trobriand 
Islanders  there  is  considerable  margin  between  the  maximum  and  mini- 
mum fulfilling  of  obligations  and  that,  within  these  limits,  persons  are 
impelled  by   motives   very   like   those   recognized   among   us.    Some   men 

[  58  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

Every  social  order  is,  viewed  in  one  way,  a  round  of  life. 
Anthropologists  almost  invariably  describe  it  so,  and  show 
how  persons  of  different  status  fit  their  activities  into  this 
round.  But  beyond  routine,  even  in  simple  and  stable  so- 
cieties, occur  great  ceremonial  occasions  and  crucial  enter- 
prises. On  such  occasions  some  person  or  persons  become 
the  center  of  enhanced  attention.  Collective  expression  and 
effort  are  co-ordinated  about  them.  Status  may  determine 
the  selection  of  these  persons,  but  they  must  perform  special 
offices  appropriate  to  the  occasion.  They  become,  within 
the  limits  of  their  offices,  especially  responsible  for  the  fate 
of  their  fellows  and  for  the  integrity  of  their  communities.5 

The  person  who  fills  such  a  great  office  is  judged  not  as 
the  common  run  of  mankind  but  with  reference  to  his  prede- 
cessors in  office  and  to  the  popular  conception  of  what  the 
office  should  be.  He  is  exposed  to  special  demands.  He 
is  also  protected,  insofar  as  the  office  sets  the  limits  of  his 
responsibility,  from  both  the  bludgeons  of  critics  and  the 
sharp  thrusts  of  his  own  conscience. 

Objective  differentiation  of  duty  reaches  its  ultimate  rig- 
idity in  ritual  office.  The  subjective  aspect  of  such  rigidity 
is  punctiliousness.0  The  responsibilities  of  ritual  office  are  so 
clear-cut  as  to  allow  the  incumbent  a  feeling  of  assurance  that 
he  is  doing  his  whole  duty.  The  anxiety  lest  he  fall  short  is 
but  the  greater.7  Anxiety  and  responsibility  are  alike  focused 

show  an  excess  of  zeal  and  generosity,  banking  upon  a  return  in  goods 
and  prestige.  He  points  also  to  a  conflict  of  offices  embodied  in  one  person; 
a  man  is  at  once  affectionate  parent  of  his  own  children  and  guardian  of 
the  property  and  interests  of  his  sister's  children.  Malinowski  suggests  that 
the  man  is  often  aware  of  this  conflict. 

5.  See  R.  Redfield,  Chan  Kom,  a  Maya  Village  (Washington,  1934), 
pp.  153-59,  for  description  of  the  fiesta  and  the  office  of  cargador;  B. 
Malinowski,  Argonauts  of  the  Western  Pacific  (London,  1922),  for  the 
office  of  the  chieftain  in  canoe-building  and  expeditions,  and  that  of  the 
magician  in  gardening. 

6.  Sumner,  op.  cit.,  par.  67. 

7.  The  psychoanalysts  trace  ritual  to  anxieties  arising  from  unconscious 
guilt.  In  compulsion  neurosis  the  individual  ceaselessly  performs  rituals 
of  penitence  and  of  washing  away  one's  sins  (see  A.  Fenichel,  Hysterien 


upon  the  office,  as  something  transcending  the  individual. 
The  incumbent  tends  to  be  impatient  of  the  criticisms  of 
others.  He  wards  them  off  by  declaring  that  whoever  criti- 
cizes him  attacks  the  sacred  office. 

In  the  performance  of  ritual  one  may  realize  profoundly 
that  he,  even  he,  is  playing  a  historic  role;  he  may  be  trans- 
figured in  an  ecstasy  in  which  his  personal  attributes  are 
merged  with  those  of  the  office.  Each  meticulous  gesture 
bursts  with  symbolic  meaning.  E.  Boyd  Barrett  writes  thus 
of  his  feeling  while  celebrating  his  first  mass. 

On  the  snow-white  altar  cloth  before  me  lay  a  chalice 
of  wine  and  on  a  paten  a  wafer  of  unleavened  bread.  Pres- 
ently at  my  words,  at  my  repetition  of  the  eternal  formula 
of  consecration,  the  wine  would  become  the  blood  of  Christ, 
and  the  bread  the  body  of  Christ.  My  hands,  soiled  and  sin- 
ful though  they  were,  would  be  privileged  to  raise  aloft  in 
adoration  the  Son  of  God,  the  Saviour  of  the  world.  .  .  . 
Surely  the  words  "Sanctus!  Sanctus!  Sanctus!"  were  none  too 
sacred  to  pronounce  in  presence  of  this  mystery  of  mysteries. 
.  .  .  My  first  mass  was  an  ecstasy  of  joy.  ...  I  gave  myself 
confidently  and  wholeheartedly  to  God  and  I  felt  that  He 
gave  himself  to  me.8 

While  devotion  and  sense  of  office  may  be  at  their  maxi- 
mum in  such  moments,  judgment  is  in  abeyance.  It  is  in  the 
nature  of  ritual  that  it  should  be,  since  each  action  is  part 
of  a  sacred  whole.  Furthermore,  rituals  are  performed  under 
compulsion  often  backed  by  a  vow.  A  vow  allows  no  turn- 
ing back,  no  changing  of  the  mind,  no  further  exercise  of 

und  Zwangsneurosen,  Vienna,  1931,  chap.  iv).  J.  Piaget,  in  The  Moral  Judg- 
ment of  the  Child  (London,  1932),  finds  that  young  children  play  marbles  as 
ritual  before  they  play  it  as  a  game.  In  this  early  stage  they  observe  punc- 
tiliously such  rules  as  they  know,  attributing  their  origin  to  their  fathers,  the 
city  alderman,  and  God.  They  are  quick  to  accuse  and  facile  at  self-excuse, 
but  show  little  regard  for  their  fellow-players. 

8.  Ex-Jesuit  (London,  1930),  p.  124.  Published  in  the  U.  S.  A.  as  The 
Magnificent  Illusion. 

9.  See  W.  G.  Sumner,  War  and  Other  Essays,  "Mores  of  the  Present 

[  60  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

An  office  may  eventually  become  so  ritualistic  that  the 
successive  incumbents  are  but  symbols  rather  than  respon- 
sible agents.  A  rigid  etiquette  is  observed  in  approaching 
them,  and  sentiments  of  reverence  become  so  intense  that 
the  office  is  worshiped.  This  final  point  of  impersonal  insti- 
tution of  an  office  is  reached  at  the  cost  of  the  more  active 
functions  of  leadership.  In  ongoing  collective  life,  contin- 
gencies arise  to  require  decisions.  Even  a  ritual  may  not  go 
on  without  a  stage-manager.  Furthermore,  every  ritual  is 
proper  to  an  occasion.  The  occasion  must  be  recognized 
and  met.  An  office  may  become  purely  symbolic  only  if 
the  meeting  of  contingencies  is  allocated  to  some  other  office.10 

and  Future,"  p.  157  (New  Haven,  1911)  in  which  he  says:  "One  of  the 
most  noteworthy  and  far-reaching  features  in  modern  mores  is  the  un- 
willingness to  recognize  a  vow  or  to  enforce  a  vow  by  any  civil  or  ec- 
clesiastical process.  ...  In  modern  mores  it  is  allowed  that  a  man  may 
change  his  mind  as  long  as  he  lives."  The  belief  that  a  man  may  change 
his  mind  is  an  essentially  secular  attitude.  Catholic  doctrine  recognizes 
this,  by  distinguishing  resolutions,  promises,  and  vows.  Vows  are  the  most 
sacred,  since  they  are  promises  to  God.  "A  subsequent  change  in  one's 
purpose  is  a  want  of  respect  to  God;  it  is  like  taking  away  something  that 
has  been  dedicated  to  Him,  and  committing  sacrilege  in  the  widest  sense 
of  the  word."  Resolutions  are  mere  present  intentions,  without  a  commit- 
ment; promises  between  man  and  man  or  to  the  saints  should  be  kept, 
but  the  breach  is  not  so  serious  as  that  of  a  vow  (The  Catholic  Encyclo- 
pedia, Vol.  XV,  "Vows").  It  is  perhaps  the  residue  of  the  compulsion  of 
a  vow  that  gives  ex-priests  the  sense  of  being  marked  men.  See  E.  Boyd 
Barrett,  op.  cit.  Ordinary  life  may  be  something  of  an  anticlimax  for  these 
men  once  dedicated  to  holy  office.  Such  men  are  also  suspect.  A  French- 
Canadian  recently  dismissed  all  that  a  certain  psychologist  might  say  by 
remarking,  "He  is  a  man  who  once  wore  the  cloth." 

There  are  many  instances  in  sociological  literature  of  the  profound 
changes  in  an  institution  that  accompany  the  decline  of  compulsion  in  its 
offices.  Redfield,  op.  cit.,  tells  how  in  towns  and  cities  the  fiesta  becomes 
something  of  a  secular  enterprise.  No  longer  is  it  a  sacred  festival,  led  by 
a  cargador  who  accepted  "the  holy  burden"  from  his  predecessor.  The 
Webbs,  in  English  Local  Government:  the  Parish  and  the  County  (London, 
1906),  describe  a  similar  decline  of  the  sense  of  obligation  to  serve  as 
parish  officers  in  growing  industrial  towns. 

10.  Max  Weber,  in  his  "Politik  als  Beruf"  (Gesammelte  politische 
Schriften,  Munich,  1921,  pp.  396-450),  essays  a  natural  history  of  various 
types  of  political  office.  He  shows  how  certain  offices,  as  that  of  sultan,  be- 
came purely  symbolic,  while  the  wielding  of  political  power  and  the  risk 
of  making  mistakes  were  assumed  by  others.  The  position  of  the  emperor 
of  Japan  is  similar;  the  emperor  is  divine,  but  he  speaks  only  through  the 


Coming  down  to  earth,  the  person  cannot,  apart  from 
ritual,  escape  judgments.  His  peculiar  social  role  asserts 
itself  and  may  come  into  conflict  with  the  office  which  he 
fills.  The  fusion  of  personal  role  and  office  is  perhaps  never 
complete  save  in  ritual. 

One  of  the  extreme  forms  in  which  one's  personal  role 
appears  is  that  of  a  call  or  peculiar  mission.  The  person's 
conception  of  his  mission  may  carry  him  beyond  the  con- 
ception which  others  have  of  his  office.  As  an  office  becomes 
defined,  there  arise  devices  by  which  one's  fellows  decide 
whether  one  is  the  person  fit  to  fill  it.  The  first  leader  of  a 
sect  may  be  "called"  to  his  task;  his  successors,  too,  are 
"called,"  but  the  validity  of  the  call  is  decided  by  other  men, 
as  well  as  by  himself.11  Thus  the  "call,"  a  subjective  assurance 
and  compulsion,  is  brought  under  the  control  of  one's  fel- 
lows. But  the  sense  of  mission  may  be  so  strong  that  it  makes 
the  person  impatient  of  the  discipline  exercised  by  his  col- 

There  are  other  ways  in  which  personal  role  and  office 
may  conflict.  It  is  sufficient  for  our  present  purposes  to  sug- 

voices  of  men.  It  is  not  suggested  that  these  two  features  do  not  some- 
times appear  in  the  same  office.  They  do,  as  in  the  papacy.  Offices  vary 
in  their  proportions  of  symbol  and  action. 

11.  See  the  Catholic  Encyclopedia,  Vol.  XV,  "Vocation."  While  the 
Catholic  church  admits  the  possibility  that  divine  light  may  be  shed  so 
abundantly  upon  a  soul  as  to  render  deliberation  about  the  validity  of  a 
vocation  unnecessary  in  some  cases,  it  does  not  regard  such  inner  assurance 
necessary  to  vocation.  The  spiritual  director  is  to  discover  and  develop 
the  germ  of  vocation  by  forming  the  character  and  encouraging  "generosity 
of  the  will."  The  church  insists  that  two  wills  should  concur  before  one  can 
enter  the  clergy:  the  will  of  the  individual  and  the  will  of  the  church. 
The  latter  is  "external  vocation,"  which  is  "the  admission  of  the  candidate 
in  due  form  by  competent  authority." 

12.  The  ardor  of  a  person  with  a  peculiar  mission  may  become  an 
insufferable  reproach  to  his  colleagues  and  contain  a  trace  of  insubordina- 
tion to  his  superiors.  The  neophyte  who  is  too  exalte  can  be  borne,  but  a 
certain  relaxation  of  ardor  is  demanded  in  course  of  time.  In  a  well- 
established  institution,  ardor  must  be  kept  within  the  limits  demanded  by 
authority  and  decorum;  it  may  not  necessarily  reach  the  state  in  which 
"men,  fearing  to  outdo  their  duty,  leave  it  half  done,"  as  Goldsmith  said 
of  the  English  clergy  in  his  essay  on  education. 

[  62  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

gest  that  the  very  sense  of  personal  role  which  leads  one  into 
an  institutional  office  may  make  him  chafe  under  its  bonds. 
The  economy  of  energy  and  will,  devotion  and  judgment, 
peculiar  to  the  individual  does  not  completely  disappear 
when  he  is  clothed  with  an  established,  even  a  holy,  office. 
The  more  secular  offices  make  fewer  formal  demands  upon 
the  individual;  they  require  less  suppression  of  the  indi- 
viduality. They  are  less  symbolic  and  more  subject  to  the 
test  of  effectiveness  in  action.  A  free,  secular  society,  from 
this  point  of  view,  is  one  in  which  the  individual  may  direct 
his  energies  toward  new  objects;  one  in  which  he  may  even 
succeed  in  creating  a  new  office,  as  well  as  in  changing  the 
nature  and  functions  of  existing  ones. 

Career  and  Office 

In  any  society  there  is  an  appropriate  behavior  of  the 
child  at  each  age.  Normal  development  of  personality  in- 
volves passing  in  due  time  from  one  status  to  another.  Some 
stages  in  this  development  are  of  long  duration;  others  are 
brief.  While  some  are  thought  of  as  essentially  preparatory, 
and  their  length  justified  by  some  notion  that  the  preparation 
for  the  next  stage  requires  a  set  time,  they  are,  nevertheless, 

In  a  relatively  stable  state  of  society,  the  passage  from 
one  status  to  another  is  smooth  and  the  experience  of  each 
generation  is  very  like  that  of  its  predecessor.  In  such  a 
state  the  expected  rate  of  passage  from  one  status  to  another 
and  an  accompanying  scheme  of  training  and  selection  of 
those  who  are  to  succeed  to  instituted  offices  determine  the 
ambitions,  efforts,  and  accomplishments  of  the  individual. 
In  a  society  where  major  changes  are  taking  place,  the  se- 
quence of  generations  in  an  office  and  that  of  offices  in  the 
life  of  the  person  are  disturbed.  A  generation  may  be  lost 
by  disorder  lasting  only  for  the  few  years  of  passage  through 
one  phase. 


However  one's  ambitions  and  accomplishments  turn,  they 
involve  some  sequence  of  relations  to  organized  life.  In  a 
highly  and  rigidly  structured  society,  a  career  consists,  ob- 
jectively, of  a  series  of  status  and  clearly  defined  offices.  In 
a  freer  one,  the  individual  has  more  latitude  for  creating  his 
own  position  or  choosing  from  a  number  of  existing  ones;  he 
has  also  less  certainty  of  achieving  any  given  position.  There 
are  more  adventurers  and  more  failures;  but  unless  complete 
disorder  reigns,  there  will  be  typical  sequences  of  position, 
achievement,  responsibility,  and  even  of  adventure.  The  social 
order  will  set  limits  upon  the  individual's  orientation  of  his 
life,  both  as  to  direction  of  effort  and  as  to  interpretation  of 
its  meaning. 

Subjectively,  a  career  is  the  moving  perspective  in  which 
the  person  sees  his  life  as  a  whole  and  interprets  the  meaning 
of  his  various  attributes,  actions,  and  the  things  which  hap- 
pen to  him.  This  perspective  is  not  absolutely  fixed  either 
as  to  points  of  view,  direction,  or  destination.  In  a  rigid 
society  the  child  may,  indeed,  get  a  fixed  notion  of  his  des- 
tined station.  Even  in  our  society  he  may  adopt  a  line  of 
achievement  as  his  own  to  the  point  of  becoming  impervious 
to  conflicting  ambitions.  Consistent  lines  of  interest  and 
tough  conceptions  of  one's  destined  role  may  appear  early 
in  life.13 

13.  Psychoanalysts  trace  to  very  lowly  motives  the  lines  of  consistency 
in  the  individual's  conception  of  his  life  and  the  way  in  which  he  disci- 
plines and  marshals  his  efforts.  Their  more  important  point  is  that  these 
phenomena  rise  out  of  intimate  family  relationships.  They  also  use  the 
term  "mobility  of  the  libido"  (cf.  Klein,  "The  Role  of  the  School  in  the 
Libidinal  Development  of  the  Child."  International  Journal  of  Psycho- 
analysis, V  [1924],  312-31)  to  indicate  the  child's  capacity  to  transfer  his 
affections  and  energies  to  objects  in  a  larger  world  as  he  grows  and  extends 
his  circle  of  activity.  A  great  deal,  however,  remains  to  be  done  in  the 
way  of  understanding  the  bearing  of  early  experiences  on  the  subsequent 
careers  of  persons.  It  is  evident  that  the  age,  as  well  as  the  frequency,  of 
appearance  of  a  sense  of  career  varies  greatly  from  family  to  family  and 
from  class  to  class.  The  pressure  on  children  to  discipline  themselves  for 
careers  likewise  varies;  the  psychological  by-products  of  these  pressures 
want  studying,   for  they  seem  sometimes  to  thwart  the  ends  they   seek. 

[  64  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

Whatever  the  importance  of  early  signs  of  budding  ca- 
reers, they  rarely  remain  unchanged  by  experience.  The 
child's  conception  of  the  social  order  in  which  adults  live 
and  move  is  perhaps  more  naive  than  are  his  conceptions  of 
his  own  abilities  and  peculiar  destiny.  Both  are  revised  in 
keeping  with  experience.  In  the  interplay  of  his  maturing 
personality  and  an  enlarging  world  the  individual  must 
keep  his  orientation. 

Careers  in  our  society  are  thought  of  very  much  in  terms 
of  jobs,  for  these  are  the  characteristic  and  crucial  connec- 
tions of  the  individual  with  the  institutional  structure.  Jobs 
are  not  only  the  accepted  evidence  that  one  can  "put  himself 
over";  they  also  furnish  the  means  whereby  other  things  that 
are  significant  in  life  may  be  procured.  But  the  career  is  by 
no  means  exhausted  in  a  series  of  business  and  professional 
achievements.  There  are  other  points  at  which  one's  life 
touches  the  social  order,  other  lines  of  social  accomplishment 
— influence,  responsibility,  and  recognition. 

A  woman  may  have  a  career  in  holding  together  a  family 
or  in  raising  it  to  a  new  position.  Some  people  of  quite  modest 
occupational  achievements  have  careers  in  patriotic,  religious, 
and  civic  organizations.  They  may,  indeed,  budget  their  ef- 
forts toward  some  cherished  office  of  this  kind  rather  than 
toward  advancement  in  their  occupations.  It  is  possible  to 
have  a  career  in  an  avocation  as  well  as  in  a  vocation. 

Places  of  influence  in  our  greater  noncommercial  or- 
ganizations are,  however,  open  mainly  to  those  who  have 
acquired  prestige  in  some  other  field.  The  governors  of  uni- 
versities are  selected  partly  on  the  basis  of  their  business  suc- 
cesses. A  recent  analysis  of  the  governing  boards  of  settle- 
ment houses  in  New  York  City  shows  that  they  are  made 
up  of  people  with  prestige  in  business  and  professional  life, 

See  H.  D.  Lasswell,  World  Politics  and  Personal  Insecurity  (New  York, 
1935),  pp.  210-12,  for  a  discussion  of  "career  lines." 


as  well  as  some  leisure  and  the  ability  to  contribute  some- 
thing to  the  budget.14 

It  would  be  interesting  to  know  just  how  significant  these 
offices  appear  to  the  people  who  fill  them;  and  further,  to 
whom  they  regard  themselves  responsible  for  the  discharge 
of  their  functions.  Apart  from  that  question,  it  is  of  impor- 
tance that  these  offices  are  by-products  of  achievements  of 
another  kind.  They  are  prerogatives  and  responsibilities  ac- 
quired incidentally;  it  might  even  be  said  that  they  are  exer- 
cised ex  officio  or  ex  statu. 

The  interlocking  of  the  directorates  of  educational,  char- 
itable, and  other  philanthropic  agencies  is  due  perhaps  not 
so  much  to  a  cabal  as  to  the  very  fact  that  they  are  philan- 
thropic, philanthropy,  as  we  know  it,  implies  economic  suc- 
cess; it  comes  late  in  a  career.  It  may  come  only  in  the  second 
generation  of  success.  But  when  it  does  come,  it  is  quite  as 
much  a  matter  of  assuming  certain  prerogatives  and  respon- 
sibilities in  the  control  of  philanthropic  institutions  as  of  giv- 
ing money.  These  prerogatives  and  responsibilities  form  part 
of  the  successful  man's  conception  of  himself  and  part  of  the 
world's  expectation  of  him.15 

Another  line  of  career  characteristic  of  our  society  and 
its  institutional  organization  is  that  which  leads  to  the  position 
of  "executive."  It  is  a  feature  of  our  society  that  a  great 
many  of  its  functions  are  carried  out  by  corporate  bodies. 
These  bodies  must  seek  the  approval  and  support  of  the 
public,  either  through  advertising  or  propaganda.  Few  insti- 
tutions enjoy  such  prestige  and  endowments  that  they  can 
forego  continued  reinterpretation  of  their  meaning  and  value 
to  the  community.  This  brings  with  it  the  necessity  of  having 
some  set  of  functionaries  who  will  act  as  promoters  and 

14.  Kennedy  A.  J.,  Farra,  K.,  and  Associates,  Social  Settlements  in 
New  York  (New  York,  1935),  chap,  xiv;  T.  Veblen,  The  Higher  Learning 
in  America  (New  York,  1918),  p.  72  et  passim. 

15.  The  Junior  League  frankly  undertakes  to  train  young  women  of 
leisure  for  their  expected  offices  in  philanthropic  agencies. 

[  66  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

propagandists  as  well  as  administrators.  Even  such  a  tradi- 
tional profession  as  medicine  and  such  an  established  or- 
ganization as  the  Roman  Catholic  church  must  have  people 
of  this  sort.  By  whatever  names  they  be  called,  their  function 
is  there  and  may  be  identified. 

Sometimes,  as  in  the  case  of  executive  secretaries  of  medi- 
cal associations,  these  people  are  drawn  from  the  ranks  of 
the  profession.  In  other  cases  they  are  drawn  from  outside. 
University  presidents  have  often  been  drawn  from  the  clergy. 
In  the  Y.M.C.A.  the  chief  executive  officer  is  quite  often  not 
drawn  from  the  ranks  of  the  "secretaries."  But  whether  or 
not  that  be  the  case,  the  functions  of  these  executive  officers 
are  such  that  they  do  not  remain  full  colleagues  of  their  pro- 
fessional associates.  They  are  rather  liaison  officers  between 
the  technical  staff,  governing  boards,  and  the  contributing 
and  clientele  publics.  Their  technique  is  essentially  a  political 
one;  it  is  much  the  same  whether  they  act  for  a  trade  associa- 
tion, the  Y.M.C.A.,  a  hospital,  a  social  agency,  or  a  uni- 
versity. There  is,  indeed,  a  good  deal  of  competition  among 
institutions  for  men  who  have  this  technique,  and  some  move- 
ment of  them  from  one  institution  to  another.  They  are  also 
men  of  enthusiasm  and  imagination.  The  institution  becomes 
to  them  something  in  which  dreams  may  be  realized.16 

These  enthusiastic  men,  skilled  in  a  kind  of  politics  nec- 
essary in  a  philanthropic,  democratic  society,  often  come  to 
blows  with  the  older  hierarchical  organization  of  the  insti- 
tutions with  which  they  are  connected.  Therein  lies  their 
importance  to  the  present  theme.  They  change  the  balance 
of  power  between  the  various  functioning  parts  of  institu- 

16.  The  reports  made  by  the  American  Association  of  University  Pro- 
fessors on  conflicts  between  professors  and  college  presidents  sometimes 
reveal  in  an  interesting  way  the  characteristics  of  both  and  of  the  offices 
they  fill.  See  Bulletin  of  the  American  Association  of  University  Pro- 
fessors, XXI  (March,  1935),  pp.  224-66,  "The  University  of  Pittsburgh"; 
XIX  (November,  1933),  pp.  416-38,  "Rollins  College." 


tions.  They  change  not  only  their  own  offices  but  those  of 

Studies  of  certain  other  types  of  careers  would  likewise 
throw  light  on  the  nature  of  our  institutions — as,  for  instance, 
the  road  to  political  office  by  way  of  fraternal  orders,  labor 
unions,  and  patriotic  societies.  Such  careers  are  enterprises 
and  require  a  kind  of  mobility,  perhaps  even  a  certain  op- 
portunism, if  the  person  is  to  achieve  his  ambitions.  These 
ambitions  themselves  seem  fluid,  rather  than  fixed  upon  solid 
and  neatly  defined  objectives.  They  are  the  opposites  of 
bureaucratic  careers,  in  which  the  steps  to  be  taken  for  ad- 
vancement are  clearly  and  rigidly  defined,  as  are  the  pre- 
rogatives of  each  office  and  its  place  in  the  official  hierarchy.17 
It  may  be  that  there  is  a  tendency  for  our  social  structure  to 
become  rigid,  and  thus  for  the  roads  to  various  positions  to 
be  more  clearly  defined.  Such  a  trend  would  make  more  fate- 
ful each  turning-point  in  a  personal  career.  It  might  also 
require  individuals  to  cut  their  conceptions  of  themselves  to 
neater,  more  conventional,  and  perhaps  smaller  patterns. 

However  that  may  be,  a  study  of  careers — of  the  moving 
perspective  in  which  persons  orient  themselves  with  reference 
to  the  social  order,  and  of  the  typical  sequences  and  con- 
catenations of  office — may  be  expected  to  reveal  the  nature 
and  "working  constitution"  of  a  society.  Institutions  are  but 
the  forms  in  which  the  collective  behavior  and  collective 
action  of  people  go  on.  In  the  course  of  a  career  the  person 
finds  his  place  within  these  forms,  carries  on  his  active  life 
with  reference  to  other  people,  and  interprets  the  meaning  of 
the  one  life  he  has  to  five. 

17.  Mannheim  would  limit  the  term  "career"  to  this  type  of  thing. 
Career  success,  he  says,  can  be  conceived  only  as  Amtskarriere.  At  each 
step  in  it  one  receives  a  neat  package  of  prestige  and  power  whose  size 
is  known  in  advance.  Its  keynote  is  security;  the  unforeseen  is  reduced 
to  the  vanishing-point  ("Uber  das  Wesen  und  die  Bedeutung  des  wirt- 
schaftlichen  Erfolgsstrebens,"  Archiv  fur  Sozialwissenschaft  und  Sozial- 
politik,  LXIII  [1930],  p.  458  ff.). 


Social  Role 
and  The  Division  of  Labor 

All  of  the  many  ways  in  which  the  work  of  human  be- 
ings is  studied  lead  back  at  some  point  to  the  obvious,  yet 
infinitely  subtle,  fact  of  the  division  of  labor.  What  is  a 
job  description  if  not  a  statement  of  what  one  worker,  rather 
than  another,  does  or  is  supposed  to  do?  Similar  reference  to 
division  of  labor  lies  implicitly  in  study  of  the  number  and 
migrations  of  the  labor  force,  of  motive  and  effort,  of  basic 
capacities  and  the  learning  of  skills,  and  in  analysis  of  the 
price  of  labor,  services  and  goods. 

The  division  of  labor,  in  its  turn,  implies  interaction;  for 
it  consists  not  in  the  sheer  difference  of  one  man's  kind  of 
work  from  that  of  another,  but  in  the  fact  that  the  different 
tasks  and  accomplishments  are  parts  of  a  whole  to  whose 
product  all,  in  some  degree,  contribute.  And  wholes,  in  the 
human  social  realm  as  in  the  rest  of  the  biological  and  in  the 
physical  realm,  have  their  essence  in  interaction.  Work  as 
social  interaction  is  the  central  theme  of  sociological  and  so- 
cial psychological  study  of  work. 

Social  role,  the  other  term  in  my  title,  is  useful  only  to 

Bulletin    of    the    Committee    on    Human    Development,    University    of 
Chicago,  1955.  Pp.  32-38.  Reprinted  by  permission. 



the  extent  that  it  facilitates  analysis  of  the  parts  played  by 
individuals  in  the  interaction  which  makes  up  some  sort  of 
social  whole.  I  am  not  sure  that  I  would  put  up  much  of  an 
argument  against  the  objection  that  it  is  not  a  very  useful 
term,  provided  the  objector  has  a  better  one  to  refer  to  the 
same  complex  of  phenomena.  I  would  argue  vociferously, 
however,  if  the  objector  implied  either  that  social  interaction 
is  not  an  ever-present  and  crucial  feature  of  human  work, 
or  that  the  social-psychological  description  of  a  division  of 
labor  implied  by  the  term  social  role  is  of  less  importance 
than  a  description  in  terms  of  techniques.  I  would  mention  to 
the  objector  that  even  those  who  work  in  solitude  are  often 
interacting  with  a  built-in  father  or  with  God  himself,  who 
is  known  to  be  worse  than  any  flesh-and-blood  slavedriver; 
and  that  those  who  toil  upward  in  the  night  while  their  com- 
panions sleep  may  quite  simply  be  seeking  access  to  an  as  yet 
unknown,  but  more  admired  set  of  companions  or  colleagues. 
I  will  not  define  or  further  belabor  these  terms,  social 
role  and  the  division  of  labor,  but  rather  illustrate  some  of 
their  dimensions  from  those  kinds  of  work  which  consist  in 
doing  something  for,  or  to,  people.  I  say  for  or  to  people 
intentionally,  but  not  cynically.  Any  child  in  any  school  will 
sometimes  believe  that  something  is  being  done  to  him  rather 
than  for  him;  the  boy  in  a  reform  school  nearly  always  thinks 
so.  The  patient  in  a  mental  hospital  is  often  convinced  that 
things  are  being  done  to  him  for  someone  else;  although  it 
may  be  in  the  nature  of  his  illness  so  to  believe,  he  may 
nevertheless  often  be  right.  Even  the  person  suffering  from 
tuberculosis,  although  he  knows  he  is  ill  and  willingly  under- 
goes treatment,  considers  that  many  of  the  rules  of  society 
and  of  the  hospital,  and  even  some  parts  of  the  treatment  are 
done  to  him,  rather  than  for  his  benefit.  Even  in  short-term 
illnesses,  the  patient  may  view  as  indignities  some  of  the 
things  allegedly  done  for  his  recovery.  At  the  least,  he  may 
think  that  they  are  done  for  the  convenience  of  those  who  work 


[  70  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

in  the  hospital  rather  than  for  his  comfort.  These  are  but  some 
of  the  simpler  ambiguities  in  those  kinds  of  work  called  per- 
sonal or  professional  services.  Perhaps  it  is  well  to  recall 
that  the  opposite  of  service  is  disservice,  and  that  the  line 
between  them  is  thin,  obscure  and  shifting. 

In  many  of  the  things  which  people  do  for  one  another, 
the  for  can  be  changed  to  to  by  a  slight  over-doing  or  by  a 
shift  of  mood.  The  discipline  necessary  to  that  degree  of 
order  and  quiet  which  will  allow  study  in  a  class-room  can 
easily  turn  into  something  perceived  by  the  children  as  per- 
verse and  cruel;  their  perceptions  may  be  truer  than  the 
teacher's  own  self-perception.  Wherever  a  modicum  of  power 
to  discipline  by  tongue  or  force  is  essential  to  one's  assigned 
task,  the  temptation  to  over-use  it  and  even  to  get  pleasure 
from  it  may  be  present,  no  matter  whether  one  be  a  teacher, 
an  attendant  in  a  mental  hospital,  or  a  prison  guard.  The 
danger  of  major  distortion  of  relationship  and  function  within 
the  framework  of  a  formal  office  lurks  wherever  people  go  or 
are  sent  for  help  or  correction:  the  school-room,  the  clinic, 
the  operating  room,  the  confessional  booth,  the  undertaking 
parlor  all  share  this  characteristic.  Whatever  terms  we  even- 
tually may  use  to  describe  social  interaction  at  work  must  be 
such  that  they  will  allow  these  subtle  distortions  of  role  or 
function  to  be  brought  to  light  and  related  to  whatever  are 
their  significant  correlates  in  personalities  or  situations. 

Another  feature  of  the  kinds  of  work  in  question  lies  in 
the  peculiar  ambiguities  with  respect  to  what  is  seen  as  hon- 
orable, respectable,  clean  and  prestige-giving  as  against  what 
is  less  honorable  or  respectable,  and  what  is  mean  or  dirty. 
The  term  profession  in  its  earlier  and  more  restricted  usage 
referred  to  a  very  few  occupations  of  high  learning  and  pres- 
tige, whose  practitioners  did  things  for  others.  Law  and  medi- 
cine are  the  prototypes.  Yet  both  of  them  have  always  required 
some  sort  of  alliance,  or,  at  least,  some  sort  of  terms  with 
the  lowliest  and  most  despised  of  human  occupations.  It  is 


not  merely  in  Dickens'  novels  that  lawyers  have  truck  with 
process-servers,  informants,  spies  and  thugs.  What  the  learned 
lawyers  argue  before  an  Appellate  Court  (and  I  hear  that  the 
cases  used  in  law  schools  are  almost  all  from  Appellate 
Courts)  is  but  a  purified  distillate  of  some  human  mess.  A 
lawyer  may  be  asked  whether  he  and  his  client  come  into 
court  with  clean  hands;  when  he  answers,  "yes,"  it  may 
mean  that  someone  else's  hands  are  of  necessity  a  bit  grubby. 
For  not  only  are  some  quarrels  more  respectable,  more  clean, 
than  others;  but  also  some  of  the  kinds  of  work  involved  in 
the  whole  system  (gathering  evidence,  getting  clients,  bring- 
ing people  to  court,  enforcing  judgments,  making  the  com- 
promises that  keep  cases  out  of  court)  are  more  respected 
and  more  removed  from  temptation  and  suspicion  than  others. 
In  fact,  the  division  of  labor  among  lawyers  is  as  much  one 
of  respectability  (hence  of  self  concept  and  role)  as  of  spe- 
cialized knowledge  and  skills.  One  might  even  call  it  a  moral 
division  of  labor,  if  one  keeps  in  mind  that  the  term  means 
not  simply  that  some  lawyers,  or  people  in  the  various 
branches  of  law  work,  are  more  moral  than  others;  but  that 
the  very  demand  for  highly  scrupulous  and  respectable  law- 
yers depends  in  various  ways  upon  the  availability  of  less 
scrupulous  people  to  attend  to  the  less  respectable  legal  prob- 
lems of  even  the  best  people.  I  do  not  mean  that  the  good 
lawyers  all  consciously  delegate  their  dirty  work  to  others 
(although  many  do).  It  is  rather  a  game  of  live  and  let  live; 
a  game,  mind  you,  hence  interaction,  even  though  it*  be  a 
game  of  keeping  greater  than  chance  distances. 

As  the  system  of  which  the  lawyer's  work  is  part  reaches 
down  into  the  nether  regions  of  the  unrespectable  and  out- 
ward to  the  limbo  of  guile  and  force,  which  people  may 
think  necessary  but  do  not  admire,  so  the  physician's  work 
touches  the  world  of  the  morally  and  ritually,  but  more  es- 
pecially of  the  physically  unclean.  Where  his  work  leaves 
off,  that  of  the  undertaker  begins;  in  some  cultures   and 

[  72  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

epochs  they  have  shared  the  monopoly  of  certain  functions 
and  certain  occult  arts.  The  physician  has  always  had  also 
to  have  some  connection  (even  though  it  be  again  the  con- 
nection of  competition  or  of  studied  avoidance)  with  the 
abortionist,  with  the  "quacks"  who  deal  with  obscure  and 
"social"  diseases,  as  well  as  with  the  lesser  occupations  which 
also  treat  physical  and  mental  troubles:  the  midwife,  who 
has  in  certain  places  and  times  been  suspected  of  being  will- 
ing to  do  her  work  a  bit  prematurely;  the  blood-letter,  who 
has  at  times  been  also  the  lowly  barber;  the  bonesetter,  who 
in  mediaeval  Italy  was  also  the  smith;  and  the  masseur  and 
keeper  of  baths,  who  is  often  suspected  of  enjoying  his  work 
too  much.  If  the  physician  has  high  prestige — and  he  has 
had  it  at  various  times  in  history,  although  perhaps  never 
more  so  than  now — it  is  not  so  much  sui  generis,  as  by 
virtue  of  his  place  in  the  particular  pattern  of  the  medical 
division  of  labor  at  the  time.  Two  features  of  that  division 
of  labor  at  present  are  ( 1 )  that  the  level  of  public  confidence 
in  the  technical  competence  and  good  faith  of  the  medical 
system  is  very  high  and  (2)  that  nearly  all  of  the  medical 
functions  have  been  drawn  into  a  great  system  of  interlock- 
ing institutions  over  which  physicians  have  an  enormous 
measure  of  control.  (Only  abortion  remains  outside,  and 
even  that  can  be  said  only  with  some  qualification.) 

It  is  also  a  division  of  labor  notorious  for  its  rigid  hier- 
archy. The  ranking  has  something  to  do  with  the  relative 
cleanliness  of  functions  performed.  The  nurses,  as  they  suc- 
cessfully rise  to  professional  standing,  are  delegating  the 
more  lowly  of  their  traditional  tasks  to  aides  and  maids.  No 
one  is  so  lowly  in  the  hospital  as  those  who  handle  soiled 
linen;  none  so  low  in  the  mental  hospital  as  the  attendant, 
whose  work  combines  some  tasks  that  are  not  clean  with 
potential  use  of  force.  But  if  there  is  no  system  in  which  the 
theme  of  uncleanliness  is  so  strong,  likewise  there  is  none  in 
which  it  is  so  strongly  compensated  for.  Physical  cleanliness  of 


the  human  organism  depends  upon  balances  easily  upset;  the 
physician  and  his  co-workers  operate  at  the  margins  where 
these  balances  are,  in  fact,  often  upset.  To  bring  back  health 
(which  is  cleanliness)  is  the  great  miracle.  Those  who  work 
the  miracle  are  more  than  absolved  from  the  potential  un- 
cleanliness  of  their  tasks;  but  those  who  perform  the  lowly 
tasks  without  being  recognized  as  among  the  miracle-workers 
fare  badly  in  the  prestige  rating.  And  this  gives  us  a  good 
case  for  rubbing  in  the  point  that  the  division  of  labor  is 
more  than  a  technical  phenomenon;  that  there  are  infinite 
social-psychological  nuances  in  it. 

Actually,  in  the  medical  world  there  are  two  contrary 
trends  operating  simultaneously.  As  medical  technology  de- 
velops and  changes,  particular  tasks  are  constantly  down- 
graded; that  is,  they  are  delegated  by  the  physician  to  the 
nurse.  The  nurse  in  turn  passes  them  on  to  the  maid.  But 
occupations  and  people  are  being  upgraded,  within  certain 
limits.  The  nurse  moves  up  nearer  the  doctor  in  techniques 
and  devotes  more  of  her  time  to  supervision  of  other  workers. 
The  practical  nurse  is  getting  more  training,  and  is  beginning 
to  insist  on  the  prerogatives  which  she  believes  should  go 
with  the  tasks  she  performs.  New  workers  come  in  at  the 
bottom  of  the  hierarchy  to  take  over  the  tasks  abandoned  by 
those  occupations  which  are  ascending  the  mobility  ladder. 
Others  come  in  outside  the  hierarchy  as  new  kinds  of  tech- 
nology (photography,  electronics,  physics)  find  a  place  in  the 
medical  effort.  Satisfactory  definitions  of  role  for  these  new 
people  are  notoriously  lacking,  and  that  in  a  system  in  which 
rigidly  defined  roles  and  ranks  are  the  rule.  Here  we  have 
indeed  a  good  case  for  illustrating  the  point  that  a  role  defini- 
tion of  a  division  of  labor  is  necessary  to  complement  any 
technical  description  of  it.  And  the  question  arises  of  the  effect 
of  changes  in  technical  division  upon  the  roles  involved. 
Sometimes  a  desired  change  of  role  is  validated  by  a  change 
in  technical  tasks   (the  nurses  are  an  excellent  example). 

[  74  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

Sometimes  a  change  in  technical  division  creates  a  role  prob- 
lem, or  a  series  of  them.  I  think  we  may  go  further  and  say 
that  when  changes  of  either  kind  get  under  way  the  repercus- 
sions will  be  felt  beyond  the  positions  immediately  affected, 
and  may  indeed  touch  every  position  in  the  system.  Some 
roles  in  a  division  of  labor  may  be  more  sensitive  to  changes 
in  technique  than  are  others.  It  seems  probable,  for  instance, 
that  some  aspects  of  the  basic  relationships  of  nurse,  physician 
and  patient  will  not  be  greatly  altered  by  the  shifting  of  tech- 
nical tasks  from  one  to  the  other  and  from  both  of  them  to 
other  people  in  the  medical  system.  (I  purposely  included  the 
patient,  for  he  has  a  part  in  the  medical  division  of  labor,  too. ) 
There  will  probably  always  be  in  this  system,  as  in  others, 
someone  whose  role  it  is  to  make  ultimate  decisions,  with 
all  the  risks  that  go  with  them  and  with  all  the  protections 
necessary.  This  is  the  role  of  the  physician.  He  has  and  jeal- 
ously guards  more  authority  than  he  can,  in  many  cases, 
actually  assume.  There  will  probably  always  be  in  the  system, 
complementary  to  this  position,  another  of  the  right-hand- 
man  order;  a  position  which  defers  to  the  first  but  which, 
informally,  often  must  exceed  its  authority  in  order  to  protect 
the  interests  of  all  concerned.  The  nurse  occupies  this  posi- 
tion. When  the  doctor  isn't  there,  she  may  do  some  necessary 
thing  which  requires  his  approval — and  get  the  approval 
when  he  comes  back.  She  is  the  right-hand  man  of  the  physi- 
cian, even  and  perhaps  especially  when  he  isn't  there.  The 
nurse  also  sometimes  fires  furnaces  and  mends  the  plumbing, 
i.e.,  she  does  tasks  of  people  below  her  or  outside  the  role 
hierarchy  of  medicine.  It  hurts  her,  but  she  does  it.  Her  place 
in  the  division  of  labor  is  essentially  that  of  doing  in  a  respon- 
sible way  whatever  necessary  things  are  in  danger  of  not  being 
done  at  all.  The  nurse  would  not  like  this  definition,  but  she 
ordinarily  in  practice  rises  to  it.  I  believe  that,  if  we  were  to 
take  a  number  of  systems  of  work  in  which  things  are  done 
for  people  we  could  dig  out  a  series  of  roles  or  positions  which 


could  be  described  in  some  such  way,  and  could  see  the  con- 
sequences for  the  roles  of  changes  in  technique  and  in  other 
roles  in  the  system.  And  I  would  defend  the  term  role  as  a 
fair  starting  term  in  such  an  enterprise;  for  it  suggests  a  part 
in  a  whole  act  involving  other  people  playing,  well  or  badly, 
their  expected  parts. 

I  have  been  saying,  in  various  rather  indirect  ways,  that 
no  line  of  work  can  be  fully  understood  outside  the  social 
matrix  in  which  it  occurs  or  the  social  system  of  which  it  is 
part.  The  system  includes,  in  most  and  perhaps  in  all  cases, 
not  merely  the  recognized  institutional  complex  but  reaches 
out  and  down  into  other  parts  of  society.  As  in  the  case  of 
law  and  even  in  medicine,  there  are  usually  some  connections 
which  we  cannot  easily  or  do  not  willingly  follow  out.  There 
are  also  ambiguities  and  apparent  contradictions  in  the  com- 
binations of  duties  of  any  one  occupation  or  position  in  an 
occupational  system. 

One  of  the  commoner  failures  in  study  of  work  is  to 
overlook  part  of  the  interactional  system.  We  speak  of  the 
physician  and  patient  as  a  social  system  (as  did  the  late  Dr. 
L.  J.  Henderson  in  an  article  by  that  name),1  or  at  most  in- 
clude the  nurse;  or  we  speak  of  teacher  and  pupil,  lawyer 
and  client,  and  the  like.  Certainly  in  some  occupations  there 
is  some  basic  relation  such  as  these;  a  relation  which  is  partly 
reality,  partly  stereotype,  partly  ideal  nostalgically  attributed 
to  a  better  past  or  sought  after  in  a  better  future.  Perhaps  the 
commonest  complaint  of  people  in  the  professions  which  per- 
form a  service  for  others,  is  that  they  are  somehow  prevented 
from  doing  their  work  as  it  should  be  done.  Someone  interferes 
with  this  basic  relation.  The  teacher  could  teach  better  were 
it  not  for  parents  who  fail  in  their  duty  or  school  boards  who 
interfere.  Psychiatrists  would  do  better  if  it  were  not  for  fam- 
ilies, stupid  public  officials,  and  ill-trained  attendants.  Nurses 

1.  Henderson,  L.  J.,  "Physician  and  Patient  as  a  Social  System,"  The 
New  England  Journal  of  Medicine,  212  (November  1937),  pp.  404-13. 

[  76  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

would  do  more  nursing  if  it  were  not  for  administrative  duties, 
and  the  carelessness  of  aides  and  maintenance  people.  Part  of 
the  complained-of  interference  is  merely  institutional.  The  in- 
stitutional matrix  in  which  things  are  done  for  people  is  cer- 
tainly becoming  more  complex  in  most  professional  fields; 
there  are  more  and  more  kinds  of  workers  in  a  division  of  labor 
ever  changing  in  its  boundaries  between  one  person's  work 
and  another's.  But  it  is  not  so  much  the  numbers  of  people 
who  intervene  that  seems  to  bother  the  professional  most;  it 
is  rather  the  differing  conceptions  of  what  the  work  really  is 
or  should  be,  of  what  mandate  has  been  given  by  the  public, 
of  what  it  is  possible  to  accomplish  and  by  what  means;  as 
well  as  of  the  particular  part  to  be  played  by  those  in  each 
position,  their  proper  responsibilities  and  rewards.  Compared 
to  the  restrictions,  resistances  and  distortions  of  purpose, 
assignments,  and  efforts  in  a  school,  a  mental  hospital,  a 
social  agency  or  a  prison,  the  much  studied  restriction  of 
production  in  a  factory  is  simplicity  itself.  In  the  factory,  there 
is  at  least  fair  consensus  about  what  the  object  produced  shall 
be.  There  is  often  no  such  consensus  in  institutions  where 
things  are  done  for  or  to  people. 

Every  one,  or  nearly  every  one  of  the  many  important 
services  given  people  by  professionals  in  our  times  is  given  in 
a  complex  institutional  setting.  The  professional  must  work 
with  a  host  of  non-professionals  (and  the  professionals  or- 
dinarily are  shortsighted  enough  to  use  that  pejorative  term 
ad  nauseam).  These  other  workers  bring  into  the  institutional 
complex  their  own  conceptions  of  what  the  problem  is,  their 
own  conceptions  of  their  rights  and  privileges,  and  of  their 
careers  and  life-fate.  The  philosophy — of  illness,  crime,  re- 
form, mental  health,  or  whatever — which  they  bring  in  is 
often  that  of  another  class  or  element  of  the  population  than 
that  to  which  the  professional  belongs  or  aspires.  Like  most 
humans,  they  do  not  completely  accept  the  role-definitions 
handed  down  from  above,  but  in  communication  among  their 


own  kind  and  in  interaction  with  the  people  served,  treated, 
or  handled,  work  out  their  own  definition.  They  build  up  an 
ethos,  and  a  system  of  rationalizations  for  the  behavior  they 
consider  proper  given  the  hazards  and  contingencies  of  their 
own  positions.  The  proper  study  of  the  division  of  labor  will 
include  a  look  at  any  system  of  work  from  the  points  of  view 
of  all  the  kinds  of  people  involved  in  it,  whether  their  position 
be  high  or  low,  whether  they  are  at  the  center  or  near  the 
periphery  of  the  system.  And  those  who  seek  to  raise  stand- 
ards of  practice  (and  their  own  status)  in  the  occupations  and 
institutions  which  do  things  for  people  would  do  well  to  study, 
in  every  case,  what  changes  in  the  other  positions  or  roles  in 
the  system  will  be  wrought  by  changes  in  their  own,  and  what 
problems  will  be  created  for  other  people  by  every  new  solu- 
tion of  one  of  their  own  problems. 

Licence  and  Mandate 

An  occupation  consists,  in  part,  of  a  successful  claim  of 
some  people  to  licence  to  carry  out  certain  activities  which 
others  may  not,  and  to  do  so  in  exchange  for  money,  goods 
or  services.  Those  who  have  such  licence  will,  if  they  have 
any  sense  of  self-consciousness  and  solidarity,  also  claim  a 
mandate  to  define  what  is  proper  conduct  of  others  toward 
the  matters  concerned  with  their  work.  The  licence  may  be 
nothing  more  than  permission  to  carry  on  certain  narrowly 
technical  activities,  such  as  installing  electrical  equipment, 
which  it  is  thought  dangerous  to  allow  laymen  to  do.  It  may, 
however,  include  the  right  to  live  one's  life  in  a  style  some- 
what different  from  that  of  most  people.  The  mandate  may 
go  no  further  than  successful  insistence  that  other  people 
stand  back  and  give  the  workers  a  bit  of  elbow  room  while 
they  do  their  work.  It  may,  as  in  the  case  of  the  modern 
physician,  include  a  successful  claim  to  supervise  and  deter- 
mine the  conditions  of  work  of  many  kinds  of  people;  in  this 
case,  nurses,  technicians  and  the  many  others  involved  in 
maintaining  the  modern  medical  establishment.  In  the  extreme 
case  it  may,  as  in  the  priesthood  in  strongly  Catholic  countries, 
include  the  right  to  control  the  thoughts  and  beliefs  of  whole 
populations  with  respect  to  nearly  all  the  major  concerns 
of  life. 



Licence,  as  an  attribute  of  an  occupation,  is  ordinarily 
thought  of  as  legal  permission  to  carry  on  a  kind  of  work. 
There  is  a  great  body  of  jurisprudence  having  to  do  with  the 
matter  of  licence,  both  in  principle  and  as  it  occurs  in  various 
occupations.  I  have  in  mind  something  both  broader  and 
deeper,  something  that  is  sometimes  implicit  and  of  undefined 
boundaries.  For  it  is  very  difficult  to  define  the  boundaries 
of  the  licence  to  carry  on  a  certain  kind  of  activity.  What  I 
am  talking  of  is  a  basic  attribute  of  society.  Occupations  here 
offer  us  an  extreme  and  highly  lighted  instance  of  a  general 
aspect  of  all  human  societies.  For  society,  by  its  very  nature, 
consists  of  both  allowing  and  expecting  some  people  to  do 
things  which  other  people  are  not  allowed  or  expected  to  do. 
All  occupations — most  of  all  those  considered  professions 
and  perhaps  those  of  the  underworld — include  as  part  of  their 
very  being  a  licence  to  deviate  in  some  measure  from  common 
modes  of  behavior.  Professions  also,  perhaps  more  than  other 
kinds  of  occupations,  claim  a  legal,  moral  and  intellectual 
mandate.  Not  merely  do  the  practitioners,  by  virtue  of  gain- 
ing admission  to  the  charmed  circle  of  colleagues,  individually 
exercise  the  licence  to  do  things  others  do  not  do,  but  col- 
lectively they  presume  to  tell  society  what  is  good  and  right 
for  the  individual  and  for  society  at  large  in  some  aspect  of 
life.  Indeed,  they  set  the  very  terms  in  which  people  may  think 
about  this  aspect  of  life.  The  medical  profession,  for  instance, 
is  not  content  merely  to  define  the  terms  of  medical  practice. 
It  also  tries  to  define  for  all  of  us  the  very  nature  of  health 
and  disease.  When  the  presumption  of  a  group  to  a  broad 
mandate  of  this  kind  is  explicitly  or  implicitly  granted  as 
legitimate,  a  profession  has  come  into  being. 

The  understanding  of  the  nature  and  extent  of  both  licence 
and  mandate,  of  their  relations  to  each  other  and  of  the  cir- 
cumstances in  which  they  expand  or  contract  is  a  crucial  area 
of  study  not  merely  of  occupations,  but  of  society  itself.  In 
such  licences  and  mandates  we  have  the  prime  manifestation 

[  80  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

of  the  moral  division  of  labor;  that  is,  of  the  processes  by 
which  differing  moral  functions  are  distributed  among  the 
members  of  society,  both  as  individuals  and  as  kinds  or  cate- 
gories of  individuals.  Moral  functions  differ  from  each  other 
both  in  kind  and  in  measure.  Some  people  seek  and  get 
special  responsibility  for  defining  the  values  and  for  establish- 
ing and  enforcing  social  sanctions  over  some  aspect  of  life. 
The  differentiation  of  moral  and  social  functions  involves 
both  the  setting  of  the  boundaries  of  realms  of  social  behavior 
and  the  allocation  of  responsibility  and  power  over  them.  One 
may  indeed  speak  of  jurisdictional  disputes  concerning  the 
rights  and  the  responsibilities  of  various  occupations  and 
categories  of  people  in  defining  and  maintaining  the  rules  of 
conduct  concerning  various  aspects  of  personal  and  social  life. 

In  these  pages  I  mean  to  illustrate  some  of  the  problems 
of  licence  and  mandate,  and  some  of  the  relations  between 

Many  occupations  cannot  be  carried  out  without  guilty 
knowledge.  The  priest  cannot  mete  out  penance  without  be- 
coming an  expert  in  sin;  else  how  may  he  know  the  mortal 
from  the  venial.  To  carry  out  his  mandate  to  tell  people  what 
books  they  may  or  may  not  read,  and  what  thoughts  and 
beliefs  they  must  espouse  or  avoid,  he  must  become  a  con- 
noisseur of  the  forbidden,  as  well  of  the  right  and  holy.  Only 
a  master  theologian  can  think  up  dangerously  subtle  heresies; 
hence  is  Satan  of  necessity  a  fallen  angel.  Few  laymen  have 
the  sophistication  to  think  up  either  original  or  very  seductive 
heresies.  The  poor  priest — at  least  in  the  Roman  Catholic 
Church — as  part  of  the  very  exchange  involved  in  his  licence 
to  hear  confessions  and  to  absolve  people  of  their  sins,  and 
in  his  mandate  to  tell  us  what  is  what  with  respect  to  matters 
moral  and  spiritual,  has  constantly  to  convince  the  layman 
that  he  does  not  yield  to  the  temptations  of  his  privileged 
position;  he  puts  on  a  uniform  which  makes  him  a  marked 
man  and  lives  a  celibate  existence.  These  are  compensating 


or  counter-deviations  from  the  common  ways  of  dressing  and 
living.  They  probably  would  not  be  admired,  and  perhaps 
would  not  even  be  tolerated,  if  practiced  by  people  who  have 
no  special  social  functions  to  justify  such  peculiar  conduct. 
The  priest,  in  short,  has  both  intellectual  and  moral  leeway, 
and  perhaps  must  have  them  if  he  is  to  carry  out  the  rest  of 
his  licence  and  if  he  is  to  merit  his  great  mandate.  He  carries 
a  burden  of  guilty  knowledge. 

The  lawyer,  the  policeman,  the  physician,  the  newspaper 
reporter,  the  scientist,  the  scholar,  the  diplomat,  the  private 
secretary,  all  of  them  must  have  licence  to  get — and  in  some 
degree,  to  keep  secret — some  order  of  guilty,  or  at  least  po- 
tentially embarrassing  and  dangerous  knowledge.  It  may  be 
guilty  in  that  it  is  knowledge  that  the  layman  would  be  obliged 
to  reveal,  or  in  that  the  withholding  of  it  from  the  public  or 
from  legal  authorities  compromises,  or  may  compromise,  the 
integrity  of  the  man  who  has  it  and  who  does  withhold  it. 
Such  is  the  case  of  the  policeman  who  keeps  connections  with 
the  underworld  and  who  fails  to  report  some  misdemeanors 
or  crimes  of  which  he  knows.  He  may,  of  course,  defend 
himself  by  saying  that  if  he  lets  the  small  fish  go  he  may  be 
better  able  to  catch  the  big  one.  Such  also  is  the  case  of  the 
diplomat  who  has  useful  friends  abroad.  Most  occupations 
rest  upon  some  explicit  or  implicit  bargain  between  the  prac- 
titioner and  the  individuals  with  whom  he  works,  and  between 
the  occupation  as  a  whole  and  society  at  large  about  receiving, 
keeping  and  the  giving  out  of  information  gathered  in  course 
of  one's  work.  The  licence  to  keep  this  bargain  is  of  the  es- 
sence of  many  occupations.  It  is  also  a  fundamental  feature 
of  all  social  and  moral  division  of  labor,  thus  of  the  social  and 
moral  order  itself. 

The  prototype  of  all  guilty  knowledge,  however,  is  a  way 
of  looking  at  things  different  from  that  of  most  people  and 
consequently  potentially  shocking  to  the  lay  mind.  Every 
occupation  must  look  in  a  relative  way  at  some  order  of 

[  82  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

events,  objects,  and  ideas.  These  must  be  classified.  To  be 
classified  they  must  be  seen  comparatively.  Their  behavior 
must  be  analyzed  and,  if  possible,  predicted.  A  suitable  tech- 
nical language  must  be  developed  so  that  colleagues  may  talk 
among  themselves  about  these  things.  This  technical — there- 
fore relative — attitude  will  have  to  be  adopted  toward  the 
very  people  one  serves;  no  profession  can  do  its  work  without 
licence  to  talk  in  shocking  terms  about  its  clients  and  their 
problems.  Sometimes  an  occupation  must  adopt  this  objective, 
comparative  attitude  toward  things  which  are  very  dear  to 
other  people  or  which  are  indeed  the  object  of  absolutely 
held  values  and  sentiments.  I  suppose  this  ultimate  licence 
is  the  greatest  when  the  people  who  exercise  it — being  guard- 
ians of  precious  things — are  in  a  position  to  do  great  damage. 

Related  to  the  licence  to  think  relatively  about  dear  things 
and  absolute  values  is  the  licence  to  do  dangerous  things.  I 
refer  not  to  the  danger  run  by  the  steeple-jack  and  by  the  men 
who  navigate  submarines,  for  that  is  danger  merely  to  them- 
selves. (Even  so  there  is  a  certain  disposition  to  pay  these 
people  off  with  a  licence  to  run  slightly  amok  when  the  one 
comes  down  and  the  other  up  to  solid  ground.)  I  speak 
rather  of  the  licence  of  the  physician  to  cut  and  dose,  of  the 
priest  to  play  with  men's  salvation,  of  the  scientist  to  split 
atoms;  or  simply  the  danger  that  advice  given  a  person  may 
be  wrong,  or  that  work  done  may  be  unsuccessful  or  cause 

Such  licence  appears  to  be  as  chronically  suspect  as  it  is 
universal  in  occurrence.  In  the  hearts  of  many  laymen  there 
burns  a  certain  aggressive  suspicion  of  all  professionals, 
whether  plumbers  or  physicians.  In  some  people  it  flares  up 
into  raging  and  fanatical  anger.  There  are  angry  people  who 
have  or  believe  that  they  have  suffered  injury  from  incom- 
petent or  careless  professionals  or  that  they  have  been  ex- 
ploited by  being  acted  upon  more  for  the  professional's 
increase  of  knowledge,  power,  or  income,  than  for  the  client's 

LICENCE   AND   MANDATE  [  83  ] 

own  well-being.  Many  anti-vivisectionists,  according  to  Helen 
MacGill  Hughes,  are  not  those  who  love  beasts  more,  but 
those  who  love  physicians  less,  suspecting  them  of  loving 
some  parts  of  their  work  too  much.1  Occasionally  such  anger 
spreads  as  a  popular  reaction.  Nowadays  some  professions 
have  engaged  public  relations  people  to  eradicate  not  merely 
the  more  open  manifestations  of  suspicion  and  anger  against 
them,  but  to  root  out  deeper  and  perhaps  more  chronic  feel- 
ings of  suspicion  of  laymen  against  those  who  have  licence 
to  perform  services  for  them.  It  is  but  natural  that,  our  culture 
being  what  it  is,  professionals  should  be  disturbed  at  not  being 
utterly  liked;  on  the  other  hand,  the  effort  to  destroy  that  last 
minim  of  suspicion  may  precipitate  a  new  suspicion,  that  of 
the  legitimacy  of  the  public  relations  man  himself.  That  sus- 
picion may  in  turn  bring  renewed  suspicion  of  those  who 
engage  public  relations  men  to  influence  public  attitudes 
toward  them. 

Herein  lies  the  whole  question  of  the  nature  of  the  bargain 
between  those  who  receive  a  service  and  those  who  give  it, 
and  of  the  circumstances  in  which  it  is  protested  by  either 
party.  Of  even  greater  sociological  import  is  the  problem  of 
general  questioning  of  licences  or  mandates.  Social  unrest 
often  shows  itself  precisely  in  questioning  of  the  prerogatives 
of  the  leading  professions.  In  time  of  crisis,  there  may  arise 
a  general  demand  for  more  complete  conformity  of  profes- 
sionals to  lay  modes  of  thought,  discourse  and  action. 

One  of  the  major  professional  deviations  of  mind,  a  form 
of  guilty  knowledge,  is  the  objective  and  relative  attitude 
mentioned  above.  One  order  of  relativity  has  to  do  with  time; 
the  professional  may  see  the  present  in  longer  perspective 
than  does  the  layman.  The  present  may  be,  for  him,  more 
crucial  in  that  it  is  seen  as  a  link  in  a  causative  chain  of 
events;  the  consequences  of  present  action  may  appear  to 

1.  "The    Compleat    Anti-vivisectionist,"    The    Scientific    Monthly,    Vol. 
LXV,  No.  6  (Dec.  1947),  pp.  503-7. 

[  84  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

him  as  more  inevitable,  rippling  down  through  time.  The 
emergency,  from  this  perspective,  may  appear  greater  to  the 
professional  than  to  the  layman.  In  another  sense,  it  may 
appear  less  crucial,  since  the  professional  sees  the  present 
situation  in  comparison  with  others;  it  is  not  unique.  Hence 
the  emergency  is  not  so  great  as  the  affected  layman  may 
see  it. 

Something  like  this  seems  to  lie  under  the  attack  upon  the 
Supreme  Court  following  its  recent  decisions  upon  civil  rights; 
and  upon  professors  who  insist  on  freedom  to  discuss  all 
things  in  this  time  of  Cold  War.  They  are  thought  to  be  fid- 
dling legal  and  academic  tunes  while  the  Communists  are 
burning  the  city  of  freedom.  We  may  any  moment  now  expect 
similar  attack  upon  those  who  teach  Greek  poetry  and  philos- 
ophy while  Sputniks  are  whirling  in  outer  space.  In  time  of 
crisis,  detachment  appears  the  most  perilous  deviation  of  all, 
the  one  least  to  be  tolerated.  The  professional  mind,  in  such 
a  case,  appears  as  a  perversion  of  the  common  sense  of  what 
is  urgent  and  what  less  urgent.  The  licence  to  think  in  longer 
perspective  thus  may  appear  dangerous. 

Militant  religious  sects  give  us  an  instructive  case.  They 
ordinarily,  in  Christianity  at  least,  consist  of  people  who  are 
convinced  that  they  are  all  in  imminent  danger  of  damnation. 
So  long  as  they  remain  militant  sects  they  are  in  chronic 
crisis.  They  consequently  usually  do  not  tolerate  a  professional 
clergy  or  much  differentiation  of  spiritual  function  at  all.  It 
is  as  if  they  sense  that  the  professionalizing  of  spiritual,  as  of 
other  functions,  inevitably  brings  some  detachment,  some 
relativity  of  attitude,  some  tendency  to  compare  even  the 
things  of  the  soul.  In  a  large  society  the  clergy  may  generally 
be  more  ardent  than  most  elements  of  the  laity;  a  sect  might 
almost  be  defined  as  a  religious  group  in  which  the  opposite 
is  true.  Inquisitions  to  the  contrary,  it  is  probable  that  profes- 
sional clergy  tend  to  be  more  tolerant  than  the  more  ardent 
among  the  laymen.  While  it  may  seem  paradoxical  to  suggest 


it,  one  may  seriously  ask  under  what  circumstances  religious 
people  tolerate  a  professional  clergy. 

The  typical  reform  movement  is  a  restless  attempt  of  lay- 
men to  redefine  values,  or  at  least  to  change  the  nature  and 
tempo  of  action  about  some  matter  over  which  an  occupa- 
tional group,  or  several  occupations,  holds  a  mandate.  The 
movement  may  simply  push  for  faster  or  more  drastic  action 
where  the  profession  is  moving  slowly  or  not  at  all;  it  may 
be  direct  attack  upon  the  dominant  philosophy  of  the  profes- 
sion, as  in  some  attempts  to  change  the  manner  of  distributing 
medical  care.  The  power  of  an  occupation  to  protect  its  licence 
and  to  maintain  its  mandate,  the  circumstances  in  which  they 
are  attacked,  lost  or  changed;  all  these  are  matters  for  investi- 
gation. Such  investigation  is  study  of  politics  in  the  very 
fundamental  sense  of  studying  constitutions.  For  constitutions 
are  the  fundamental  relations  between  the  effective  estates 
which  make  up  the  body  politic.  In  our  society  some  occupa- 
tions are  among  the  groups  which  most  closely  resemble  what 
were  once  known  as  estates.  While  there  has  been  a  good  deal 
of  study  of  the  political  activities  of  occupational  groups,  the 
subject  has  been  somewhat  misunderstood  as  a  result  of  the 
strong  fiction  of  political  neutrality  in  our  society.  Of  course, 
a  certain  licence  to  be  politically  neutral  has  been  allowed 
some  occupations;  but  the  very  circumstances  and  limits  of 
such  neutrality  are  a  matter  for  study.  Special  attention  should 
be  given  the  exchanges  implied  and  the  circumstances,  some 
of  which  have  been  mentioned,  in  which  licence  is  denied, 
and  the  ways  in  which  it  is  violated  and  subverted  from  within 
and  from  without.  A  later  chapter  will  present  some  data  con- 
cerning the  political  neutrality  of  official  statisticians — a  group 
of  professionals  who  consider  themselves  especially  outside  the 
political  battle. 

I  have  not  in  these  pages  by  any  means  exhausted  con- 
sideration of  the  very  many  variations  of  licence  and  man- 
date and  of  the  relations  between  them.  School  teachers  in 

[  86  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

our  society,  as  individuals,  have  but  little  licence  to  think 
thoughts  which  others  don't  think;  they  aren't  even  sup- 
posed to  think  the  nastier  thoughts  that  others  do  think.  They 
have  almost  a  negative  licence  in  this  regard,  in  that  they 
are  expected  in  many  communities  to  be  rather  innocuous, 
although  not  heroic,  examples  to  the  young.  Their  mandate 
seems  to  be  limited  to  defining  matters  of  pedagogy  and  is 
strongly  questioned  even  on  that  point.  There  are  many  peo- 
ple nowadays  who  would  like  a  return  to  some  previous 
form  of  pedagogy  which  they  think  superior  to  what  they 
think  is  the  prevailing  method  now.  Certainly  the  teaching 
profession  is  not  succeeding  in  this  country  in  winning  a 
mandate  to  say  what  things  children  shall  be  taught.  Edu- 
cational policy  is  given  into  their  hands  but  grudgingly.  On 
the  other  hand,  they  have  a  great  deal  more  licence  in  the 
handling  of  children  than  people  believe,  by  a  sort  of  de- 
fault. The  ability  of  laymen  to  see  just  what  goes  on  in  a 
professional  relationship  involving  the  things  and  people 
dear  to  them  is  always  somewhat  limited.  Durkheim  referred 
to  something  which  he  called  the  impermeability  of  profes- 
sions to  outside  view  and  intervention.2 

The  educational  profession  also  has  a  certain  mandate  by 
default,  in  addition  to  that  which  they  have  won  by  action 
and  propaganda.  The  lay  public  in  this,  as  in  other  matters, 
by  its  very  lack  of  persistent  and  informed  concern,  leaves 
in  the  hands  of  professionals  much  of  the  definition  of  philos- 
ophy, law  and  action,  with  respect  to  a  vital  concern. 

The  notions  of  licence  and  mandate  could  be  applied  to 
study  of  the  underworld  and  of  social  deviation  in  general, 
and  to  the  study  of  artists  and  entertainers.  The  people  of 
the  underworld  have  a  considerable  licence  to  deviate  from 
ordinary  norms  of  conduct;  in  fact,  they  get  their  living  by 
helping  respectable  people  escape  these  norms.  But  the  li- 
cence of  the  underworld  is  never  quite  admitted.  The  way 

2.  Op.  cit. 


in  which  they  find  spokesmen  and  the  nature  of  the  ex- 
changes between  them  and  the  more  respectable  world  have 
often  been  discussed  as  a  pathology  of  politics.  The  full  circle 
of  exchanges,  with  all  their  implications,  has  not  been  anal- 
yzed with  an  eye  to  learning  something  fundamental  about 
the  very  nature  of  social  exchanges  and  hence  about  the  na- 
ture of  society  itself.  Study  of  the  licence  of  artists  and  enter- 
tainers can  also  yield  much  knowledge  concerning  the  de- 
grees of  conformity  in  society  and  the  consequences  of  trying 
to  reduce  deviation  to  something  like  zero.  For  these  occu- 
pations seem  to  require,  if  they  are  to  produce  the  very  things 
for  which  society  will  give  them  a  living  of  sorts  (or,  in 
some  cases,  unheard  of  opulence),  at  least  some  people  who 
deviate  widely  from  the  norms  more  or  less  espoused  and  ad- 
hered to  by  other  people.  Their  licence,  however,  is  periodi- 
cally in  a  parlous  state,  and  there  seems  to  be  no  guarantee  that 
it  will  not  at  any  moment  be  attacked.  On  the  other  hand, 
it  seems  never  permanently  to  be  withdrawn. 

These  remarks  about  licence,  mandate  and  the  moral 
division  of  labor  are  meant  to  introduce  rather  than  to  be 
a  definitive  analysis.  They  suggest  one  of  the  lines  along 
which  investigation  about  occupations  becomes  investigation 
of  the  nature  of  society  itself. 


Mistakes  at  Work 

The  comparative  student  of  man's  work  learns  about 
doctors  by  studying  plumbers;  and  about  prostitutes  by  study- 
ing psychiatrists.  This  is  not  to  suggest  any  degree  of  similarity 
greater  than  chance  expectation  between  the  members  of 
these  pairs,  but  simply  to  indicate  that  the  student  starts  with 
the  assumption  that  all  kinds  of  work  belong  in  the  same 
series,  regardless  of  their  places  in  prestige  or  ethical  ratings. 
In  order  to  learn,  however,  one  must  find  a  frame  of  refer- 
ence applicable  to  all  cases  without  regard  to  such  ratings. 
To  this  end,  we  seek  for  the  common  themes  in  human  work. 
One  such  theme  is  that  of  routine  and  emergency.  By  this  I 
mean  that  one  man's  routine  of  work  is  made  up  of  the  emer- 
gencies of  other  people.  In  this  respect,  the  pairs  of  occupa- 
tions named  above  do  perhaps  have  some  rather  close  simi- 
larities. Both  the  physician  and  the  plumber  do  practice 
esoteric  techniques  for  the  benefit  of  people  in  distress.  The 
psychiatrist  and  the  prostitute  must  both  take  care  not  to 
become  too  personally  involved  with  clients  who  come  to 
them  with  rather  intimate  problems.  I  believe  that  in  the 
study  of  work,  as  in  that  of  other  human  activities  and  insti- 
tutions, progress  is  apt  to  be  commensurate  with  our  ability 

The  Canadian  Journal  of  Economics  and  Political  Science.  Vol.  XVII, 
(August,  1951),  pp.  320-27.  Reprinted  with  permission. 


MISTAKES   AT   WORK  [  89  ] 

to  draw  a  wide  range  of  pertinent  cases  into  view.  The  wider 
the  range,  the  more  we  need  a  fundamental  frame  of  reference. 
Another  theme  in  human  work  is  the  problem  of  mistakes 
and  failures.  It,  too,  is  found  in  all  occupations.  The  more 
times  per  day  a  man  does  a  given  operation,  the  greater  his 
chance  of  doing  it  wrong  sometimes.  True,  his  skill  may 
become  so  great  that  his  percentage  of  errors  is  nearly  zero. 
It  is  common  talk  in  the  medical  profession  that  certain  sur- 
gical operations  really  ought  not  to  be  done  at  all,  except 
in  extremis,  by  men  who  do  not  have  the  opportunity  to  do 
them  literally  by  the  hundreds  every  year.  In  a  large  and 
favorably  known  hospital,  the  interns  and  residents — who 
are  there  to  learn  by  practice — complain  that  the  leading 
members  of  the  surgical  staff  take  all  the  interesting  cases, 
not  merely  out  of  charity,  but  to  keep  their  level  of  skill  up 
to  the  point  of  least  risk  for  the  few  patients  who  can  pay 
a  really  high  fee.  This  reduces  the  opportunities  of  the  interns 
and  residents  to  acquire  skill.  One  may  speak  of  a  calculus 
of  the  probability  of  making  mistakes,  in  which  the  variables 
are  skill  and  frequency  of  performance.  It  is  obvious  that 
there  are  many  possibilities.  One  who  never  performs  a  given 
action  will  never  do  it  wrong.  But  one  who  has  never  tried 
it  could  not  do  it  right  if  he  were  on  some  occasion  compelled 
to  try.  This  is  the  position  of  the  layman  with  reference  to 
many  skills.  Some  skills  require  more  repetition  than  others 
for  the  original  learning  and  for  maintenance.  In  some,  even 
the  most  proficient  make  many  failures,  while  in  others  the 
top  level  of  skill  is  close  to  perfection.  Occupations,  con- 
sidered as  bundles  of  skills,  are  subject  to  the  contingencies 
contained  in  all  combinations  of  these  factors  of  learning 
and  of  maintaining  skill,  and,  correlatively,  subject  to  varia- 
tions in  the  probability  that  one  will  sometimes  make  mistakes. 
These  are  matters  in  which  experimental  and  vocational  psy- 
chologists are  much  interested  and  on  which  they  are  doing 
significant  work. 

[  90  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

But  there  are  other  factors  in  this  problem  of  mistakes 
and  failures.  Some  mistakes  are  more  fateful  than  others, 
either  for  the  person  who  makes  them,  for  his  colleagues, 
or  for  the  persons  upon  whom  the  mistakes  are  made.  Those 
who  train  students  for  research  which  requires  receiving  the 
confidences  of  living  people  and  getting  and  keeping  entree 
to  groups  and  institutions  of  various  sorts  are  aware  of  this 
problem.  (We  are  at  present  working  on  a  project  to  dis- 
cover how  to  train  students  to  a  high  level  of  skill  in  social 
observation  with  the  least  risk  of  damage  to  all  concerned.) 
In  occupations  in  which  mistakes  are  fateful  and  in  which 
repetition  on  living  or  valuable  material  is  necessary  to  learn 
the  skills,  it  is  obvious  that  there  is  a  special  set  of  problems 
of  apprenticeship  and  of  access  to  the  situations  in  which 
the  learning  may  be  done.  Later  on,  when  the  neophyte  is 
at  his  work,  there  arises  the  problem  of  his  seeming  always 
to  have  known  how,  since  the  very  appearance  of  being  a 
learner  is  frightening.  At  any  rate,  there  are  psychological, 
physical,  social,  and  economic  risks  in  learning  and  doing 
one's  work.  And  since  the  theoretical  probability  of  making 
an  error  some  day  is  increased  by  the  very  frequency  of 
the  operations  by  which  one  makes  one's  living,  it  becomes 
natural  to  build  up  some  rationale  to  carry  one  through.  It 
is  also  to  be  expected  that  those  who  are  subject  to  the  same 
work  risks  will  compose  a  collective  rationale  which  they 
whistle  to  one  another  to  keep  up  their  courage,  and  that 
they  will  build  up  collective  defenses  against  the  lay  world. 
These  rationales  and  defenses  contain  a  logic  that  is  some- 
what like  that  of  insurance,  in  that  they  tend  to  spread  the 
risk  psychologically  (by  saying  that  it  might  happen  to  any- 
one), morally,  and  financially.  A  study  of  these  risk-spreading 
devices  is  an  essential  part  of  comparative  study  of  occupa- 
tions. They  have  a  counterpart  in  the  devices  which  the 
individual  finds  for  shifting  some  of  the  sense  of  guilt  from 
his  own  shoulders  to  those  of  the  larger  company  of  his 

MISTAKES   AT  WORK  [  91  ] 

colleagues.  Perhaps  this  is  the  basis  of  the  strong  identification 
with  colleagues  in  work  in  which  mistakes  are  fateful,  and  in 
which  even  long  training  and  a  sense  of  high  calling  do  not 
prevent  errors. 

Now  let  us  approach  the  subject  from  the  side  of  the 
person  who,  since  he  receives  the  services,  will  suffer  from 
the  mistakes  when  they  are  made.  In  a  certain  sense,  we 
actually  hire  people  to  make  our  mistakes  for  us.  The  division 
of  labor  in  society  is  not  merely,  as  is  often  suggested,  tech- 
nical. It  is  also  psychological  and  moral.  We  delegate  certain 
things  to  other  people,  not  merely  because  we  cannot  do 
them,  but  because  we  do  not  wish  to  run  the  risk  of  error. 
The  guilt  of  failure  would  be  too  great.  Perhaps  one  reason 
why  physicians  do  work  gratis  for  each  other's  families  is  to 
keep  completely  free  from  the  economic  necessity  of  treating 
people  with  whom  they  are  so  closely  involved  that  mistakes 
would  be  too  hard  to  face. 

Sometimes  a  person  requires  an  assurance  that  can  be 
had  only  by  being  in  a  strictly  lay  frame  of  mind.  Belief  in 
the  charism  of  skill  is  a  lay,  rather  than  a  professional,  atti- 
tude. The  professional  attitude  is  essentially  statistical;  it 
deals  in  probabilities.  But  there  are  matters  about  which  we 
prefer  to  think  in  absolutes.  In  dealing  with  such  matters  we 
delegate  the  relative  way  of  thinking  to  another,  who  becomes 
our  agent.  He  runs  our  risks  for  us.  We  like  to  believe  him 
endowed  with  charism.  Ray  Gold,  who  studied  some  of  the 
building  trades,  found  that  the  housewife  likes  to  believe 
that  the  plumber  she  calls  in  is  perfect,  not  merely  relatively 
good.  He  keeps  the  mysterious  entrails  of  her  precious  house 
in  order.  How  much  more  does  one  want  to  believe  abso- 
lutely in  one's  dentist,  lawyer,  physician,  and  priest.  (There 
are  of  course  other  non-technical  factors  involved  in  delega- 
tion of  tasks.  Some  work  is  infra  dignitate.  Some  is  necessary, 
but  shady,  or  forbidden  by  one's  particular  taboos  and  aver- 

[  92  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

Now  this  does  not  mean  that  the  person  who  delegates 
work,  and  hence,  risk,  will  calmly  accept  the  mistakes  which 
are  made  upon  him,  his  family,  or  his  property.  He  is  quick 
to  accuse;  and  if  people  are  in  this  respect  as  psychiatrists 
say  they  are  in  others,  the  more  determined  they  are  to  escape 
responsibility,  the  quicker  they  may  be  to  accuse  others  for 
real  or  supposed  mistakes. 

In  fact,  I  suppose  that  we  all  suspect  just  a  little  the  ob- 
jectivity of  those  to  whom  we  delegate  the  more  fateful  of 
our  problems.  We  suspect  them  for  that  very  experimental 
spirit  which  we  know  is,  in  some  degree,  necessary  to  hardy 
and  progressive  skill  in  meeting  our  crises.  Thus  there  is 
probably  always  some  ambivalence  in  our  feelings  towards 
the  people  whom  we  hire  to  make  our  mistakes,  or  at  least 
to  run  the  risk  of  making  them.  The  whole  problem  or  set 
of  problems  involved  in  delegating  work — and  risks — to 
others  is  one  on  which  there  is  not  much  to  be  found  in  the 
anthropological,  sociological,  or  psychological  literature.  For 
each  occupation  that  one  studies  one  should,  I  believe,  seek 
to  determine  just  what  it  is  that  is  delegated  to  the  persons 
in  the  occupation  and  what  are  the  attitudes  and  feelings 
involved  on  both  sides. 

We  now  have  before  us  the  problem  and  the  characters. 
The  characters  are  the  people  who,  because  they  do  some- 
thing often  and  for  others,  run  the  risk  of  making  mistakes 
and  of  causing  injury;  and  those  other  people  who,  for  tech- 
nical, economic,  psychological,  moral,  or  status  reasons,  dele- 
gate some  of  their  tasks  and  problems  to  others  and  who  there- 
fore may  have  mistakes  made  upon  them  and  at  their  expense. 
These  are  not  really  two  kinds  of  people,  but  are  the  same 
people  in  different  roles.  The  relation  of  these  two  roles  is 
part  of  the  personal  adjustment  of  everyone  who  works.  The 
problem  is  the  reduction  and  absorption  of  the  risk  of  failure 
on  both  sides,  and  of  the  kinds  of  conflicts  within  and  between 

MISTAKES   AT   WORK  [  93  ] 

persons,  which  arise  from  the  risk  of  error,  mistakes,  and 

As  soon  as  we  go  into  these  problems  we  are  faced  with 
another:  that  of  defining  what  a  failure  or  mistake  is  in  any 
given  line  of  work  or  in  a  given  work  operation.  This  leads 
to  still  another,  which  turns  out  to  be  the  significant  one  for 
the  social  drama  of  work:  Who  has  the  right  to  say  what  a 
mistake  or  a  failure  is?  The  findings  on  this  point  are  fairly 
clear;  a  colleague-group  (the  people  who  consider  them- 
selves subject  to  the  same  work  risks)  will  stubbornly  defend 
its  own  right  to  define  mistakes,  and  to  say  in  the  given  case 
whether  one  has  been  made.1  Howard  S.  Becker  has  found 
that  professional  jazz  musicians  will  do  considerable  injury 
to  themselves  rather  than  let  any  layman,  even  the  one  who 
is  paying  their  wages,  say  that  a  musician  is  playing  badly 
or  even  that  he  has  struck  the  wrong  note.  An  orchestra  leader 
who  would  even  relay  a  layman's  complaint  to  a  member  of 
his  band  would  be  thought  already  on  the  road  to  becoming 
a  "square,"  one  of  those  outsiders  who  do  not  understand 
jazz  music.  Now  you  may  say  that  jazz  music  is  so  lacking 
in  any  canons  of  correctness  that  there  is  no  such  thing  as  a 
single  false  note  within  the  larger  noise.  It  is  all  a  matter  of 
individual  opinion.  There  is  no  clear  and  objective  standard 
by  which  a  judgment  can  be  made. 

But  how  clear  is  it  in  other  lines  of  work?  When  one 
starts  comparing  occupations  in  this  regard  one  finds  that  in 
most  of  them  it  is  very  difficult  to  establish  criteria  of  success 
or  failure,  and  of  mistakes  as  against  proper  execution  of 

1.  The  colleague-group  does  not  in  all  cases  succeed  in  getting  and 
keeping  this  right.  Perhaps  they  do  not  always  want  the  full  responsibility 
of  convicting  one  another  of  error  and  of  applying  sanctions.  It  would  be 
more  correct  to  say  that  a  kind  of  jurisprudence  of  mistakes  is  an  essential 
part  of  the  study  of  any  occupation.  Professor  Norman  Ward  has  sug- 
gested that  a  study  of  the  official  error  in  baseball  would  throw  light  on 
the  processes  involved. 

[  94  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

work.  The  cases  where  all  parties  to  the  work  drama  would 
agree  are  few  indeed.  In  factories  which  make  precision  parts 
the  criteria  are  finely  measured  tolerances,  but  usually  there 
is  an  informally  agreed  upon  set  of  tolerances  which  are 
slightly  looser  than  those  in  the  book.  Workmen  and  inspectors 
are  continually  at  odds  over  the  difference,  even  when  the 
workmen  want  the  parts  they  make  to  be  workable.  This  is 
a  case  of  the  clearest  kind  of  criterion.  In  medicine  the 
criteria  of  success  and  failure  are  often  far  from  clear.  Dr. 
Bruno  Bettelheim  recently  stated  that  psychotherapists  do 
not  discuss  together  their  successes  and  failures  because  there 
are  no  standards  to  go  by;  that  is  why,  he  said,  they  spend  so 
much  time  discussing  whether  their  historical  reconstructions 
of  the  troubles  of  their  patients  are  correct  or  not.  Health  is, 
after  all,  a  relative  matter.  Most  people  are  interested  in 
making  the  old  body  do  as  long  as  possible;  this  makes  medi- 
cine quite  a  different  matter  from  the  automobile  industry 
(where  the  garage  man  makes  his  work  easier  by  persuading 
you  the  old  car  isn't  worth  mending). 

Even  where  the  standards  may  be  a  little  clearer  than  in 
medicine  and  education,  the  people  who  work  and  those 
who  receive  the  product  as  goods  or  services  will  have  quite 
different  degrees  and  kinds  of  knowledge  of  the  probabili- 
ties and  contingencies  involved.  The  colleague-group  will 
consider  that  it  alone  fully  understands  the  technical  con- 
tingencies, and  that  it  should  therefore  be  given  the  sole  right 
to  say  when  a  mistake  has  been  made.  The  layman,  they  may 
contend,  cannot  even  at  best  fully  understand  the  contin- 
gencies. This  attitude  may  be  extended  to  complete  silence 
concerning  mistakes  of  a  member  of  the  colleague-group, 
because  the  very  discussion  before  a  larger  audience  may 
imply  the  right  of  the  layman  to  make  a  judgment;  and  it 
is  the  right  to  make  the  judgment  that  is  most  jealously 

In  some  occupations  it  is  assumed  that  anyone  on  the 

MISTAKES   AT   WORK  [  95  ] 

inside  will  know  by  subtle  gestures  when  his  colleagues  be- 
lieve a  mistake  has  been  made.  Full  membership  in  the 
colleague-group  is  not  attained  until  these  gestures  and  their 
meaning  are  known.  When  they  are  known,  there  need  not 
be  conscious  and  overt  discussion  of  certain  errors  even 
within  the  colleague-group.  And  when  some  incident  makes 
an  alleged  failure  or  mistake  a  matter  of  public  discussion, 
it  is  perhaps  the  feeling  that  outsiders  will  never  understand 
the  full  context  of  risk  and  contingency  that  makes  colleagues 
so  tight-lipped.  And  if  matters  have  gone  to  such  a  point 
that  mistakes  and  failures  are  not  freely  discussed  even  within 
the  trusted  in-group,  public  discussion  may  be  doubly  feared; 
for  in  addition  to  questioning  the  prerogative  of  in-group 
judgment,  the  outside  inquisitor  lifts  the  veil  from  the  group's 
own  hidden  anxieties,  the  things  colleagues  do  not  talk  about 
even  among  themselves.  This  may  be  the  source  of  the  rather 
nervous  behavior  of  school  teachers  when  my  colleagues 
and  I  report  to  them — at  their  own  request — some  of  the 
things  we  are  finding  out  about  them. 

One  of  the  differences  between  lay  and  professional 
thinking  concerning  mistakes  is  that  to  the  layman  the  tech- 
nique of  the  occupation  should  be  pure  instrument,  pure 
means  to  an  end,  while  to  the  people  who  practice  it,  every 
occupation  tends  to  become  an  art.  David  Riesman,2  who 
was  once  a  clerk  to  Justice  Brandeis,  and  an  assistant  in  the 
office  of  the  District  Attorney  of  New  York,  tells  of  the  won- 
derful briefs  which  young  lawyers  draw  up  for  presentation 
to  lower  court  judges  who  can  scarcely  read  them,  much 
less  judge  the  law  that  is  in  them.  The  ritual  of  looking  up 
all  the  past  cases,  and  the  art  of  arguing  out  all  possibilities 
are  gone  through,  even  when  the  lawyer  knows  that  the  deci- 
sion will  be  made  upon  a  much  simpler — perhaps  also  a 

2.  "Toward  an  Anthropological  Science  of  Law  and  the  Legal  Profes- 
sion," The  American  Journal  of  Sociology,  LVII  (September,  1951),  pp. 

[  96  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

much  sounder — basis.  What  is  more:  the  ritual  and  the  art 
are  respected,  and  the  men  who  perform  them  with  brilliance 
and  finesse  are  admired.  The  simple  client  may  be  dazzled, 
but  at  some  point  he  is  also  likely  to  think  that  he  is  being 
done  by  the  whole  guild  of  lawyers,  including  his  own,  the 
opposing  counsel,  and  the  court.  In  a  sense,  the  art  and 
cult  of  the  law  are  being  maintained  at  his  expense.  The  legal 
profession  believes,  in  some  measure,  in  the  cult  of  the  law. 
The  individual  case  is  thought  of  not  merely  as  something 
to  be  decided,  but  as  part  of  the  stream  of  observance  of  the 
cult  of  the  law. 

And  here  we  come  to  the  deeper  point  of  Dr.  Bettelheim's 
remark  concerning  his  own  colleagues,  the  psychotherapists. 
A  part  of  their  art  is  the  reconstruction  of  the  history  of  the 
patient's  illness.  This  may  have  some  instrumental  value, 
but  the  value  put  upon  it  by  the  practitioners  is  of  another 
order.  The  psychotherapists,  perhaps  just  because  the  stand- 
ards of  cure  are  so  uncertain,  apparently  find  reassurance  in 
being  adept  at  their  art  of  reconstruction  (no  doubt  accom- 
panied by  faith  that  skill  in  the  art  will  bring  good  to  patients 
in  the  long  run). 

Another  example  of  these  ways  of  thinking  is  to  be  found 
in  social  work.  This  profession  is  said  to  make  a  distinction 
between  successful  and  professional  handling  of  a  case.  The 
layman  thinks  of  success  as  getting  the  person  back  on  his 
feet,  or  out  of  his  trouble.  The  social  worker  has  to  think 
of  correct  procedure,  of  law,  of  precedent,  of  the  case  as 
something  which  leaves  a  record.  She  also  appreciates  skilful 
interviewing,  and  perhaps  can  chuckle  over  some  case  which 
was  handled  with  subtlety  and  finish,  although  the  person 
never  got  "well"  (whatever  that  would  be  in  social  work). 

In  teaching,  where  ends  are  very  ill-defined — and  conse- 
quently mistakes  are  equally  so — where  the  lay  world  is  quick 
to  criticize  and  blame,  correct  handling  becomes  ritual  as 
much  as  or  even  more  than  an  art.  If  a  teacher  can  prove 

MISTAKES   AT  WORK  [  97  ] 

that  he  has  followed  the  ritual,  the  blame  is  shifted  from  him- 
self to  the  miserable  child  or  student;  the  failure  can  be  and 
is  put  upon  them. 

Ritual  is  also  strongly  developed  in  occupations  where 
there  are  great  unavoidable  risks,  as  in  medicine.  In  such 
occupations  the  ritual  may,  however,  be  stronger  in  the  sec- 
ond and  third  ranks  of  the  institutions  in  which  the  work  is 
done.  Thus,  in  medicine,  the  physician,  who  stands  at  the 
top  of  the  hierarchy,  takes  the  great  and  final  risks  of  deci- 
sion and  action.  These  risks  are  delegated  to  him,  and  he  is 
given  moral  and  legal  protection  in  taking  them.  But  the 
pharmacist,  who  measures  out  the  prescribed  doses,  and 
the  nurse,  who  carries  out  the  ordered  treatment,  are  the 
great  observers  of  ritual  in  medicine.  Pharmacists  are  said 
often  to  become  ritualistic  wipers  and  polishers,  flecking  in- 
finitely small  grains  of  dust  from  scales  on  which  they  are 
only  going  to  weigh  out  two  pounds  of  Paris  green.  The 
ritualistic  punctiliousness  of  nurses  and  pharmacists  is  a  kind 
of  built-in  shock-absorber  against  the  possible  mistakes  of 
the  physician.  Indeed,  in  dramatizing  their  work,  these  sec- 
ond-rank professions  explicitly  emphasize  their  role  as  saviors 
of  both  patient  and  physician  from  the  errors  of  the  latter. 
And  here  again  we  get  a  hint  of  what  may  be  the  deeper 
function  of  the  art,  cult,  and  ritual  of  various  occupations. 
They  may  provide  a  set  of  emotional  and  even  organizational 
checks  and  balances  against  both  the  subjective  and  the  ob- 
jective risks  of  the  trade. 

I  suspect  that  it  is  a  rare  occupation  whose  practitioners 
develop  no  criteria  of  good  work,  and  no  concept  of  mistake 
or  failure  other  than  simply  defined  successful  conclusion 
of  the  given  case  or  task.  Usually  the  professional  judgment 
will  contain  explicit  or  implicit  references  to  an  art,  a  cult, 
and  a  ritual.  The  function  of  the  art,  cult,  and  ritual  is  not 
so  much  to  bring  the  individual  case  to  an  early  successful 
conclusion  as  to  relate  it  to  the  on-going  occupation  itself, 

[  98  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

and  to  the  social  system  in  which  the  work  is  done.  In  most 
occupations,  a  man  can  be  judged  as  quite  wrong  by  his 
colleagues  for  an  action  which  the  lay  client  might  consider 
very  successful  indeed.  The  quack,  defined  functionally  and 
not  in  evaluative  terms,  is  the  man  who  continues  through 
time  to  please  his  customers  but  not  his  colleagues.  On  the 
contrary,  a  man  may  be  considered  by  his  colleagues  to 
have  done  a  piece  of  work  properly  and  without  error,  even 
when  the  client  may  accuse  him  of  error,  mistake,  or  failure. 

In  this  remarks  I  have  mentioned  two  concepts  of  great 
importance  for  study  of  the  universal  work  drama.  One  is 
the  concept  of  role;  the  other,  that  of  social  system.  A  person, 
asked  what  his  work  is,  can  answer  in  two  ways.  He  can  say 
what  he  does:  I  make  beds,  I  plumb  teeth.  Or  he  can  say  who 
he  is:  I  am  the  person  who  does  so  and  so.  In  the  latter 
case  he  is  naming  his  role.  A  large  part  of  the  business  of 
protecting  one's  self  from  the  risks  of  one's  own  work  mis- 
takes lies  in  definition  of  role;  and  in  some  occupations,  one 
of  the  rewards  is  definition  of  one's  role  in  such  a  way  as 
to  show  that  one  helps  protect  people  from  the  mistakes  of 
others.  Now,  roles  imply  a  system  of  social  arrangements. 
Most  work  is  done  in  such  systems.  Part  of  the  function  of 
these  systems  is  to  delegate,  to  spread,  or,  in  some  cases, 
to  concentrate,  the  risk  and  the  guilt  of  mistakes;  and  also 
to  spread  and  to  allocate  the  losses  which  result  from  them. 
The  details  of  these  matters  are  better  left  until  they  have 
been  worked  out  more  fully. 

This  one  example  of  sociological  analysis  prompts  some 
remarks  concerning  the  academic  division  of  labor  with  ref- 
erence to  human  work.  In  the  historical  and  conventional 
division  of  academic  labor,  work  has  belonged  to  the  econo- 
mists, as  do  voters  and  kings  to  the  political  scientist,  and 
fun  and  vice  to  the  sociologist.  The  historian  handled  any- 
thing which  had  been  written  down  on  paper  or  other  ma- 
terial long  enough  ago  for  the  author,  his  characters,  and 

MISTAKES   AT  WORK  [  99  ] 

all  the  relatives  of  both  to  be  so  long  dead  that  no  one  would 
bring  a  libel  suit.  Indeed,  it  was  better  if  they  were  in  danger 
of  being  forgotten,  for  the  historian's  fame  depended  on  re- 
discovering them.  But  his  mandate  allowed  him  to  tell  all 
about  his  characters — their  work,  their  politics,  and  their 
gambols.  The  anthropologist  went  about  the  earth  on  one- 
man  expeditions  discovering  people  who  didn't  write  and 
hadn't  been  written  about.  Since  he  was  alone  in  the  field 
and  since  his  reputation  depended  upon  his  being  the  first 
there,  he  looked  at  everything  from  hair  texture  and  the 
shape  of  shin  bones  to  religion,  art,  kinship,  crime,  and  even 
the  technique  and  organization  of  work,  and  the  distribution 
of  the  products  of  labor. 

Now  the  division  of  academic  labor,  like  other  human 
arrangements,  is  as  much  the  result  of  social  movements  as 
of  logic.  Some  persons  in,  or  on  the  periphery  of,  academic 
life  are  seized,  from  time  to  time,  with  a  new  preoccupation. 
They  pursue  it  and  their  successors  nourish  it.  The  third 
generation  will  have  refined  out  of  it  some  pure  essence  which 
will  be  called  a  social  science;  but  they  will  not  ordinarily 
have  yielded  to  anyone  else  the  original  liquor  from  which 
their  essence  was  distilled.  Thus,  the  pure  essence  of  eco- 
nomic reasoning  was  abstracted  from  preoccupation  with  all 
sorts  of  things  having  to  do  with  the  material  and  moral 
welfare  of  man,  as  may  be  seen  in  Adam  Smith's  The  Wealth 
of  Nations.  Since  the  quantities  which  would  appear  in  place 
of  the  letters  in  economic  equations — if  some  economist 
were  to  be  so  impure  as  to  make  such  a  substitution — would 
include  the  price  of  the  labor  used  in  manufacturing  and 
distributing  those  goods  which  are  produced  in  sufficient 
quantities  to  fit  the  formulae,  it  is  quite  natural  that  work 
should  have  been  one  of  the  preoccupations  of  the  economist. 
Indeed,  it  was  natural  that  economists  should  extend  their 
interest  to  whatever  might  affect  the  price  and  supply  of 
labor:  migration,  the  birth-rate,  religion  and  philosophy,  laws, 

[  100  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

trade  unions,  politics,  and  even  mental  and  physical  capaci- 
ties, although  the  latter  have  become  the  psychologists'  claim 
to  entry  into  the  factory.  Economists  have  been  interested  in 
those  distractions  from  labor  which  have  more  lately  been 
the  concern  of  the  sociologist,  but  which  Daniel  Defoe,  who 
never  heard  of  sociology,  commented  upon  in  The  True- 
Born  Englishman: 

The  lab'ring  poor,  in  spight  of  double  pay 
Are  sawcy,  mutinous  and  beggarly 
So  lavish  of  their  money  and  their  time 
That  want  of  forecast  is  the  nation's  crime 
Good  drunken  company  is  their  delight 
And  what  they  get  by  day,  they  spend  by  night. 

If  the  occupation  of  the  economist  be  economic  reasoning, 
in  ever  more  sophisticated  formulae,  human  work  continues 
to  be  one  of  his  preoccupations.  And  this  illustrates  the  fate 
of  each  branch  of  social  science;  that  while  it  refines  and 
purifies  its  theoretical  core,  its  logic,  it  can  never  free  itself 
from  the  human  mess.  Wallowing  there,  each  purist  will  find 
himself  in  the  company  of  others  who,  although  they  seek 
to  create  a  different  pure  product  of  logic,  must  extract  it 
from  this  same  mess.  It  might  be  of  some  use,  in  these  days 
of  the  cult  of  collaboration  between  the  social  disciplines,  for 
us  to  understand  the  social  movements  out  of  which  the  vari- 
ous social  sciences  have  come,  and  the  consequent  develop- 
ment in  each  not  merely  of  a  central  and  distinguishing  logic, 
but  of  a  large  periphery  or  halo  of  preoccupation  with  institu- 
tions and  events.  It  is,  I  believe,  treading  upon  a  pre-empted 
area  of  events  and  institutions  that  brings  accusation  of  aca- 
demic trespass,  rather  than  borrowing  its  fundamental  logic. 
Thus  a  sociologist  should  stay  out  of  factories  because  the 
economist  was  there  first.  The  economist  should  stay  out  of 
the  family.  Neither  of  them  should  be  caught  in  an  insane 
asylum,  which  is  the  domain  of  psychiatrists. 

MISTAKES   AT   WORK  [  101  ] 

But,  to  the  extent  that  there  is  some  logic  in  the  academic 
division  of  labor,  representatives  of  each  discipline  will  be 
found  studying  not  merely  some  one  institution  but  any  events 
which  yield  to  effective  analysis  by  their  particular  logic. 
Economics  will  cease  to  be  merely — if  it  ever  was — the  science 
of  markets;  anthropology,  of  primitive  peoples;  education,  of 
what  happens  in  schools;  sociology,  of  families,  churches,  play- 
grounds, settlement  houses,  and  prisons. 

Human  work,  including  the  institutions  in  which  people 
work  for  a  living,  has  become  one  of  the  lively  fr  >ntiers  on 
which  social  scientists  meet.  Without  belaboring  the  point,  I 
refer  you  to  V.  W.  Bladen  for  an  acute  analysis  of  what  is  hap- 
pening among  economists,  anthropologists,  and  sociologists 
on  this  frontier.3  Work,  I  submit,  is  in  all  human  societies  an 
object  of  moral  rule,  of  social  control  in  the  broadest  sense, 
and  it  is  precisely  all  the  processes  involved  in  the  definition 
and  enforcement  of  moral  rule  that  form  the  core  problems 
of  sociology. 

3.  "Economics  and  Human  Relations,"  The  Canadian  Journal  of  Eco- 
nomics and  Political  Science,  Vol.  14  (August,  1948),  pp.  301-11. 


Dilemmas  and 
Contradictions  of  Status 

It  is  doubtful  whether  any  society  ever  had  so  great  a  variety 
of  statuses  or  recognized  such  a  large  number  of  status- 
determining  characteristics  as  does  ours.  The  combinations 
of  the  latter  are,  of  course,  times  over  more  numerous  than 
the  characteristics  themselves.  In  societies  where  statuses* 
are  well  defined  and  are  entered  chiefly  by  birth  or  a  few 
well-established  sequences  of  training  or  achievement,  the 
particular  personal  attributes  proper  to  each  status  are  woven 
into  a  whole.  They  are  not  thought  of  as  separate  entities. 
Even  in  our  society,  certain  statuses  have  developed  char- 
acteristic patterns  of  expected  personal  attributes  and  a  way 
of  life.  To  such,  in  the  German  language,  is  applied  the  term 

Few  of  the  positions  in  our  society,  however,  have  re- 
mained fixed  long  enough  for  such  an  elaboration  to  occur. 

The  American  Journal  of  Sociology.  Vol  L  (March,  1945),  pp.  353-59. 
Reprinted  with  permission. 

*  "Status"  is  here  taken  in  its  strict  sense  as  a  defined  social  position 
for  whose  incumbents  there  are  defined  rights,  limitations  of  rights,  and 
duties.  See  the  Oxford  Dictionary  and  any  standard  Latin  lexicon.  Since 
statuses  tend  to  form  a  hierarchy,  the  term  itself  has — since  Roman  times — 
had  the  additional  meaning  of  rank. 



We  put  emphasis  on  change  in  the  system  of  positions  which 
make  up  our  social  organization  and  upon  mobility  of  the 
individual  by  achievement.  In  the  struggle  for  achievement, 
individual  traits  of  the  person  stand  out  as  separate  entities. 
And  they  occur  in  peculiar  combinations  which  make  for 
confusion,  contradictions,  and  dilemmas  of  status. 

I  shall,  in  this  paper,  elaborate  the  notion  of  contradic- 
tions and  dilemmas  of  status.  Illustrations  will  be  taken  from 
professional  and  other  occupational  positions.  The  idea  was 
put  into  a  suggestive  phrase  by  Robert  E.  Park1  when  he  wrote 
of  the  "marginal  man."  He  applied  the  term  to  a  special 
kind  of  case — the  racial  hybrid — who,  as  a  consequence  of 
the  fact  that  races  have  become  defined  as  status  groups, 
finds  himself  in  a  status  dilemma. 

Now  there  may  be,  for  a  given  status  or  social  position, 
one  or  more  specifically  determining  characteristics  of  the 
person.  Some  of  them  are  formal,  or  even  legal.  No  one, 
for  example,  has  the  status  of  physician  unless  he  be  duly 
licensed.  A  foreman  is  not  such  until  appointed  by  proper 
authority.  The  heavy  soprano  is  not  a  prima  donna  in  more 
than  temperament  until  formally  cast  for  the  part  by  the 
director  of  the  opera.  For  each  of  these  particular  positions 
there  is  also  an  expected  technical  competence.  Neither  the 
formal  nor  the  technical  qualifications  are,  in  all  cases,  so 
clear.  Many  statuses,  such  as  membership  in  a  social  class, 
are  not  determined  in  a  formal  way.  Other  statuses  are  ill- 
defined  both  as  to  the  characteristics  which  determine  iden- 
tification with  them  and  as  to  their  duties  and  rights. 

There  tends  to  grow  up  about  a  status,  in  addition  to 
its  specifically  determining  traits,  a  complex  of  auxiliary 
characteristics  which  come  to  be  expected  of  its  incumbents. 
It  seems  entirely  natural  to  Roman  Catholics  that  all  priests 

1.  Park,  Robert  E.,  "Human  Migration  and  the  Marginal  Man,"  Ameri- 
can Journal  of  Sociology,  Vol.  XXXIII  (May,  1928),  pp.  881-93.  Also  in 
Park,  Robert  E.,  Race  and  Culture.  Glencoe  (111.),  1950. 

[  104  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

should  be  men,  although  piety  seems  more  common  among 
women.  In  this  case  the  expectation  is  supported  by  formal 
rule.  Most  doctors,  engineers,  lawyers,  professors,  managers, 
and  supervisors  in  industrial  plants  are  men,  although  no 
law  requires  that  they  be  so.  If  one  takes  a  series  of  charac- 
teristics, other  than  medical  skill  and  a  licence  to  practice  it, 
which  individuals  in  our  society  may  have,  and  then  thinks 
of  physicians  possessing  them  in  various  combinations,  it 
becomes  apparent  that  some  of  the  combinations  seem  more 
natural  and  are  more  acceptable  than  others  to  the  great 
body  of  potential  patients.  Thus  a  white,  male,  Protestant 
physician  of  old  American  stock  and  of  a  family  of  at  least 
moderate  social  standing  would  be  acceptable  to  patients  of 
almost  any  social  category  in  this  country.  To  be  sure,  a 
Catholic  might  prefer  a  physician  of  his  own  faith  for  rea- 
sons of  spiritual  comfort.  A  few  ardent  feminists,  a  few  race- 
conscious  Negroes,  a  few  militant  sectarians,  might  follow 
their  principles  to  the  extent  of  seeking  a  physician  of  their 
own  category.  On  the  other  hand,  patients  who  identify  them- 
selves with  the  "old  stock"  may,  in  an  emergency,  take  the 
first  physician  who  turns  up.2 

If  the  case  is  serious,  patients  may  seek  a  specialist  of 
some  strange  or  disliked  social  category,  letting  the  repu- 
tation for  special  skill  override  other  traits.  The  line  may 
be  crossed  also  when  some  physician  acquires  such  renown 

2.  A  Negro  physician,  driving  through  northern  Indiana,  came  upon 
a  crowd  standing  around  a  man  just  badly  injured  in  a  road  accident.  The 
physician  tended  the  man  and  followed  the  ambulance  which  took  him  to 
the  hospital.  The  hospital  authorities  tried  to  prevent  the  physician  from 
entering  the  hospital  for  even  long  enough  to  report  to  staff  physicians 
what  he  had  done  for  the  patient.  The  same  physician,  in  answer  to  a 
Sunday  phone  call  asking  him  to  visit  a  supposedly  very  sick  woman, 
went  to  a  house.  When  the  person  who  answered  the  door  saw  that  the 
physician  was  a  Negro,  she  insisted  that  they  had  not  called  for  a  doctor 
and  that  no  one  in  the  house  was  sick.  When  he  insisted  on  being  paid, 
the  people  in  the  house  did  so,  thereby  revealing  their  he.  In  the  first  in- 
stance, an  apparently  hostile  crowd  accepted  the  Negro  as  a  physician  be- 
cause of  urgency.  In  the  second,  he  was  refused  presumably  because  the 
emergency  was  not  great  enough. 


that  his  office  becomes  something  of  a  shrine,  a  place  of 
wonderful,  last-resort  cures.  Even  the  color  line  is  not  a 
complete  bar  to  such  a  reputation.  On  the  contrary,  it  may 
add  piquancy  to  the  treatment  of  a  particularly  enjoyed 
malady  or  lend  hope  to  the  quest  for  a  cure  of  an  "incurable" 
ailment.  Allowing  for  such  exceptions,  it  remains  probably 
true  that  the  white,  male,  Protestant  physician  of  old  Ameri- 
can stock,  although  he  may  easily  fail  to  get  a  clientele  at 
all,  is  categorically  acceptable  to  a  greater  variety  of  pa- 
tients than  is  he  who  departs,  in  one  or  more  particulars, 
from  this  type. 

It  is  more  exact  to  say  that,  if  one  were  to  imagine  patients 
of  the  various  possible  combinations  of  these  same  charac- 
teristics (race,  sex,  religion,  ethnic  background,  family  stand- 
ing), such  a  physician  could  treat  patients  of  any  of  the 
resulting  categories  without  a  feeling  by  the  physician,  pa- 
tient, or  the  surrounding  social  circle  that  the  situation  was 
unusual  or  shocking.  One  has  only  to  make  a  sixteen-box 
table  showing  physicians  of  the  possible  combinations  of  race 
(white  and  Negro)  and  sex  with  patients  of  the  possible  com- 
binations to  see  that  the  white  male  is  the  only  resulting  kind 
of  physician  to  whom  patients  of  all  the  kinds  are  completely 
accessible  in  our  society  (see  Table  1). 

One  might  apply  a  similar  analysis  to  situations  involv- 
ing other  positions,  such  as  the  foreman  and  the  worker, 
the  teacher  and  the  pupil.  Each  case  may  be  complicated 
by  adding  other  categories  of  persons  with  whom  the  person 
of  the  given  position  has  to  deal.  The  teacher,  in  practice, 
has  dealings  not  only  with  pupils  but  with  parents,  school 
boards,  other  public  functionaries,  and,  finally,  his  own 
colleagues.  Immediately  one  tries  to  make  this  analysis,  it 
becomes  clear  that  a  characteristic  which  might  not  inter- 
fere with  some  of  the  situations  of  a  given  position  may  inter- 
fere with  others. 

I  do  not  maintain  that  any  considerable  proportion  of 

[  106  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

people  do  consciously  put  together  in  a  systematic  way  their 
expectations  of  persons  of  given  positions.  I  suggest,  rather, 
that  people  carry  in  their  minds  a  set  of  expectations  con- 
cerning the  auxiliary  traits  properly  associated  with  many 
of  the  specific  positions  available  in  our  society.  These  ex- 
pectations appear  as  advantages  or  disadvantages  to  persons 
who,  in  keeping  with  American  social  belief  and  practice, 
aspire  to  positions  new  to  persons  of  their  kind. 

The  expected  or  "natural"  combinations  of  auxiliary  char- 
acteristics become  embodied  in  the  stereotypes  of  ordinary 
talk,  cartoons,  fiction,  the  radio,  and  the  motion  picture. 
Thus,  the  American  Catholic  priest,  according  to  a  popular 
stereotype,  is  Irish,  athletic,  and  a  good  sort  who  with  diffi- 
culty refrains  from  profanity  in  the  presence  of  evil  and 
who  may  punch  someone  in  the  nose  if  the  work  of  the  Lord 
demands  it.  Nothing  could  be  farther  from  the  French  or 
French-Canadian  stereotype  of  the  good  priest.  The  surgeon, 
as  he  appears  in  advertisements  for  insurance  and  pharma- 
ceutical products,  is  handsome,  socially  poised,  and  young 
of  face  but  gray  about  the  temples.  These  public,  or  publicity, 
stereotypes — while  they  do  not  necessarily  correspond  to  the 
facts  or  determine  people's  expectations — are  at  least  sig- 
nificant in  that  they  rarely  let  the  person  in  the  given  posi- 
tion have  any  strikes  against  him.  Positively,  they  represent 
someone's  ideal  conception;  negatively,  they  take  care  not 
to  shock,  astonish,  or  put  doubts  into  the  mind  of  a  public 
whose  confidence  is  sought. 

If  we  think  especially  of  occupational  status,  it  is  in  the 
colleague-group  or  fellow-worker  group  that  the  expectations 
concerning  appropriate  auxiliary  characteristics  are  worked 
most  intricately  into  sentiment  and  conduct.  They  become, 
in  fact,  the  basis  of  the  colleague-group's  definition  of  its  com- 
mon interests,  of  its  informal  code,  and  of  selection  of  those 
who  become  the  inner  fraternity — three  aspects  of  occupa- 


tional  life  so  closely  related  that  few  people  separate  them 
in  thought  or  talk. 

The  epithets  "hen  doctor,"  "boy  wonder,"  "bright  young 
men,"  and  "brain  trust"  express  the  hostility  of  colleagues 
to  persons  who  deviate  from  the  expected  type.  The  members 
of  a  colleague-group  have  a  common  interest  in  the  whole 
configuration  of  things  which  control  the  number  of  potential 
candidates  for  their  occupation.  Colleagues,  be  it  remem- 
bered, are  also  competitors.  A  rational  demonstration  that 
an  individual's  chances  for  continued  success  are  not  jeop- 
ardized by  an  extension  of  the  recruiting  field  for  the  posi- 
tion he  has  or  hopes  to  attain,  or  by  some  short-cutting  of 
usual  fines  of  promotion,  does  not,  as  a  rule,  liquidate  the 
fear  and  hostility  aroused  by  such  a  case.  Oswald  Hall  found 
that  physicians  do  not  like  one  of  their  number  to  become 
a  consultant  too  soon.3  Consulting  is  something  for  the  crown- 
ing,  easing-off  years  of  a  career;   something  to   intervene 

Table  I4 

PATIENT  While  Male      White  Female     Negro  Male     Negro  Female 

White  Male  

White   Female  

Negro  Male  

Negro   Female  

briefly  between  high  power  and  high  blood-pressure.  He 
who  pushes  for  such  practice  too  early  shows  an  "aggressive- 
ness" which  is  almost  certain  to  be  punished.  It  is  a  threat 
to  an  order  of  things  which  physicians — at  least,  those  of  the 

3.  Hall,   Oswald.    "The   Informal   Organization   of   Medical   Practice." 

Unpublished  Ph.D.  dissertation.  University  of  Chicago,  1944.  ,  "The 

Stages  of  a  Medical  Career,"  The  American  Journal  of  Sociology,  LIII, 
(March   1948),  pp.  327-36. 

4.  Cf.  Williams,  Josephine  J.,  "Patients  and  Prejudice;  Lay  Attitudes 
toward  Women  Physicians,"  The  American  Journal  of  Sociology,  LI  (Jan. 
1946),  pp.  283-87. 

[  108  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

fraternity  of  successful  men — count  upon.  Many  of  the  spe- 
cific rules  of  the  game  of  an  occupation  become  compre- 
hensible only  when  viewed  as  the  almost  instinctive  attempts 
of  a  group  of  people  to  cushion  themselves  against  the  hazards 
of  their  careers.  The  advent  of  colleague-competitors  of  some 
new  and  peculiar  type,  or  by  some  new  route,  is  likely  to 
arouse  anxieties.  For  one  thing,  one  cannot  be  quite  sure 
how  "new  people" — new  in  kind — will  act  in  the  various 
contingencies  which  arise  to  test  the  solidarity  of  the  group.5 

How  the  expectations  of  which  we  are  thinking  become 
embodied  in  codes  may  be  illustrated  by  the  dilemma  of  a 
young  woman  who  became  a  member  of  that  virile  profession, 
engineering.  The  designer  of  an  airplane  is  expected  to  go  up 
on  the  maiden  flight  of  the  first  plane  built  according  to  the 
design.  He  (sic)  then  gives  a  dinner  to  the  engineers  and 
workmen  who  worked  on  the  new  plane.  The  dinner  is  nat- 
urally a  stag  party.  The  young  woman  in  question  designed 
a  plane.  Her  co-workers  urged  her  not  to  take  the  risk — for 
which,  presumably,  men  only  are  fit — of  the  maiden  voyage. 
They  were,  in  effect,  asking  her  to  be  a  lady  rather  than  an 
engineer.  She  chose  to  be  an  engineer.  She  then  gave  the  party 
and  paid  for  it  like  a  man.  After  food  and  the  first  round  of 
toasts,  she  left  like  a  lady. 

Part  of  the  working  code  of  a  position  is  discretion;  it 
allows  the  colleagues  to  exchange  confidences  concerning  their 
relations  to  other  people.  Among  these  confidences  one  finds 
expressions  of  cynicism  concerning  their  mission,  their  com- 
petence, and  the  foibles  of  their  superiors,  themselves,  their 
clients,  their  subordinates,  and  the  public  at  large.  Such  ex- 
pressions take  the  burden  from  one's  shoulders  and  serve  as 
a  defense  as  well.  The  unspoken  mutual  confidence  necessary 

5.  It  may  be  that  those  whose  positions  are  insecure  and  whose  hopes 
for  the  higher  goals  are  already  fading  express  more  violent  hostility  to 
"new  people."  Even  if  so,  it  must  be  remembered  that  those  who  are 
secure  and  successful  have  the  power  to  exclude  or  check  the  careers  of 
such  people  by  merely  failing  to  notice  them. 


to  them  rests  on  two  assumptions  concerning  one's  fellows. 
The  first  is  that  the  colleague  will  not  misunderstand;  the 
second  is  that  he  will  not  repeat  to  uninitiated  ears.  To  be 
sure  that  a  new  fellow  will  not  misunderstand  requires  a 
sparring  match  of  social  gestures.  The  zealot  who  turns  the 
sparring  match  into  a  real  battle,  who  takes  a  friendly  initia- 
tion too  seriously,  is  not  likely  to  be  trusted  with  the  lighter 
sort  of  comment  on  one's  work  or  with  doubts  and  misgivings; 
nor  can  he  learn  those  parts  of  the  working  code  which  are 
communicated  only  by  hint  and  gesture.  He  is  not  to  be 
trusted,  for,  though  he  is  not  fit  for  stratagems,  he  is  suspected 
of  being  prone  to  treason.  In  order  that  men  may  communi- 
cate freely  and  confidentially,  they  must  be  able  to  take  a 
good  deal  of  each  other's  sentiments  for  granted.  They  must 
feel  easy  about  their  silences  as  well  as  about  their  utterances. 
These  factors  conspire  to  make  colleagues,  with  a  large  body 
of  unspoken  understandings,  uncomfortable  in  the  presence 
of  what  they  consider  odd  kinds  of  fellows.  The  person  who 
is  the  first  of  his  kind  to  attain  a  certain  status  is  often  not 
drawn  into  the  informal  brotherhood  in  which  experiences  are 
exchanged,  competence  built  up,  and  the  formal  code  elabo- 
rated and  enforced.  He  thus  remains  forever  a  marginal  man. 
Now  it  is  a  necessary  consequence  of  the  high  degree  of 
individual  mobility  in  America  that  there  should  be  large 
numbers  of  people  of  new  kinds  turning  up  in  various  posi- 
tions. In  spite  of  this  and  in  spite  of  American  heterogeneity, 
this  remains  a  white,  Anglo-Saxon,  male,  Protestant  culture 
in  many  respects.  These  are  the  expected  characteristics  for 
many  favored  statuses  and  positions.  When  we  speak  of  racial, 
religious,  sex,  and  ethnic  prejudices,  we  generally  assume  that 
people  with  these  favored  qualities  are  not  the  objects  thereof. 
In  the  stereotyped  prejudices  concerning  others,  there  is 
usually  contained  the  assumption  that  these  other  people  are 
peculiarly  adapted  to  the  particular  places  which  they  have 
held  up  to  the  present  time;  it  is  a  corollary  implication  that 

[  110  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

they  are  not  quite  fit  for  new  positions  to  which  they  may 
aspire.  In  general,  advance  of  a  new  group — women,  Negroes, 
some  ethnic  groups,  etc. — to  a  new  level  of  positions  is  not 
accompanied  by  complete  disappearance  of  such  stereotypes 
but  only  by  some  modification  of  them.  Thus,  in  Quebec  the 
idea  that  French-Canadians  were  good  only  for  unskilled  in- 
dustrial work  was  followed  by  the  notion  that  they  were  espe- 
cially good  at  certain  kinds  of  skilled  work  but  were  not  fit  to 
repair  machines  or  to  supervise  the  work  of  others.  In  this 
series  of  modifications  the  structure  of  qualities  expected  for 
the  most-favored  positions  remains  intact.  But  the  forces  which 
make  for  mobility  continue  to  create  marginal  people  on  new 

Technical  changes  also  break  up  configurations  of  ex- 
pected status  characteristics  by  altering  the  occupations  about 
which  they  grow  up.  A  new  machine  or  a  new  managerial 
device — such  as  the  assembly  line — may  create  new  positions 
or  break  old  ones  up  into  numbers  of  new  ones.  The  length 
of  training  may  be  changed  thereby  and,  with  it,  the  whole 
traditional  method  of  forming  the  person  to  the  social  demands 
of  a  colleague-group.  Thus,  a  snip  of  a  girl  is  trained  in  a 
few  weeks  to  be  a  "machinist"  on  a  practically  foolproof 
lathe;  thereby  the  old  foolproof  machinist,  who  was  initiated 
slowly  into  the  skills  and  attitudes  of  the  trade,  is  himself 
made  a  fool  of  in  his  own  eyes  or — worse — in  the  eyes  of 
his  wife,  who  hears  that  a  neighbor's  daughter  is  a  machinist 
who  makes  nearly  as  much  money  as  he.  The  new  positions 
created  by  technical  changes  may,  for  a  time,  lack  definition 
as  a  status.  Both  the  technical  and  the  auxiliary  qualifications 
may  be  slow  in  taking  form.  The  personnel  man  offers  a 
good  example.  His  title  is  perhaps  twenty  years  old,  but  the 
expectations  concerning  his  qualities  and  functions  are  still 
in  flux.6 

6.  The  personnel  man  also  illustrates  another  problem  which  I  do  not 
propose  to  discuss  in  this  paper.  It  is  that  of  an  essential  contradiction  be- 


Suppose  we  leave  aside  the  problems  which  arise  from 
technical  changes,  as  such,  and  devote  the  rest  of  this  discus- 
sion to  the  consequences  of  the  appearance  of  new  kinds  of 
people  in  established  positions.  Every  such  occurrence  pro- 
duces, in  some  measure,  a  status  contradiction.  It  may  also 
create  a  status  dilemma  for  the  individual  concerned  and  for 
other  people  who  have  to  deal  with  him. 

The  most  striking  illustration  in  our  society  is  offered  by 
the  Negro  who  qualifies  for  one  of  the  traditional  professions. 
Membership  in  the  Negro  race,  as  defined  in  American  mores 
and/or  law,  may  be  called  a  master  status-determining  trait. 
It  tends  to  overpower,  in  most  crucial  situations,  any  other 
characteristics  which  might  run  counter  to  it.  But  professional 
standing  is  also  a  powerful  characteristic — most  so  in  the 
specific  relationships  of  professional  practice,  less  so  in  the 
general  intercourse  of  people.  In  the  person  of  the  profes- 
sionally qualified  Negro  these  two  powerful  characteristics 
clash.  The  dilemma,  for  those  whites  who  meet  such  a  person, 
is  that  of  having  to  choose  whether  to  treat  him  as  a  Negro 
or  as  a  member  of  his  profession. 

The  white  person  in  need  of  professional  services,  espe- 
cially medical,  might  allow  him  to  act  as  doctor  in  an  emer- 
gency. Or  it  may  be  allowed  that  a  Negro  physician  is  endowed 
with  some  uncanny  skill.  In  either  case,  the  white  client  of 
ordinary  American  social  views  would  probably  avoid  any 
nonprofessional  contacts  with  the  Negro  physician.7  In  fact, 

tween  the  various  functions  which  are  united  in  one  position.  The  per- 
sonnel man  is  expected  to  communicate  the  mind  of  the  workers  to  man- 
agement and  then  to  interpret  management  to  the  workers.  This  is  a 
difficult  assignment.  The  problem  is  well  stated  by  William  F.  Whyte,  in 
"Pity  the  Pefsonnel  Man,"  Advanced  Management,  October-December, 
1944,  pp.  154-58.  The  Webbs  analyzed  the  similar  dilemma  of  the  official 
of  a  successful  trade-union  in  their  History  of  Trade-Unionism  (rev.  ed.; 
London:  Longmans,  Green,  1920), 

7.  The  Negro  artist  can  be  treated  as  a  celebrity.  It  is  within  the  code 
of  social  tufthunting  that  one  may  entertain,  with  a  kind  of  affected  Bo- 
hemian intimacy,  celebrities  who,  on  all  counts  other  than  their  artistic 
accomplishments,  would  be  beyond  the  pale. 

[  112  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

one  way  of  reducing  status  conflict  is  to  keep  the  relationship 
formal  and  specific.  This  is  best  done  by  walking  through  a 
door  into  a  place  designed  for  the  specific  relationship,  a  door 
which  can  be  firmly  closed  when  one  leaves.  A  common  scene 
in  fiction  depicts  a  lady  of  degree  seeking,  veiled  and  alone, 
the  address  of  the  fortuneteller  or  the  midwife  of  doubtful 
practice  in  an  obscure  corner  of  the  city.  The  anonymity  of 
certain  sections  of  cities  allows  people  to  seek  specialized 
services,  legitimate  but  embarassing  as  well  as  illegitimate, 
from  persons  with  whom  they  would  not  want  to  be  seen  by 
members  of  their  own  social  circle. 

Some  professional  situations  lend  themselves  more  than 
others  to  such  quarantine.  The  family  physician  and  the 
pediatrician  cannot  be  so  easily  isolated  as  some  other  special- 
ists. Certain  legal  services  can  be  sought  indirectly  by  being 
delegated  to  some  queer  and  unacceptable  person  by  the 
family  lawyer.  At  the  other  extreme  is  school  teaching,  which 
is  done  in  full  view  of  the  community  and  is  generally  expected 
to  be  accompanied  by  an  active  role  in  community  activities. 
The  teacher,  unlike  the  lawyer,  is  expected  to  be  an  example 
to  her  charges. 

For  the  white  colleagues  of  the  Negro  professional  man 
the  dilemma  is  even  more  severe.  The  colleague-group  is 
ideally  a  brotherhood;  to  have  within  it  people  who  cannot, 
given  one's  other  attitudes,  be  accepted  as  brothers  is  very 
uncomfortable.  Furthermore,  professional  men  are  much 
more  sensitive  than  they  like  to  admit  about  the  company  in 
which  nonprofessionals  see  them.  The  dilemma  arises  from 
the  fact  that,  while  it  is  bad  for  the  profession  to  let  laymen 
see  rifts  in  their  ranks,  it  may  be  bad  for  the  individual  to 
be  associated  in  the  eyes  of  his  actual  or  potential  patients 
with  persons,  even  colleagues,  of  so  despised  a  group  as  the 
Negro.  The  favored  way  of  avoiding  the  dilemma  is  to  shun 
contacts  with  the  Negro  professional.  The  white  physician  or 
surgeon  of  assured  reputation  may  solve  the  problem  by  act- 


ing  as  consultant  to  Negro  colleagues  in  Negro  clinics  and 

For  the  Negro  professional  man  there  is  also  a  dilemma. 
If  he  accepts  the  role  of  Negro  to  the  extent  of  appearing 
content  with  less  than  full  equality  and  intimacy  with  his 
white  colleagues,  for  the  sake  of  such  security  and  advantage 
as  can  be  so  got,  he  himself  and  others  may  accuse  him  of 
sacrificing  his  race.  Given  the  tendency  of  whites  to  say  that 
any  Negro  who  rises  to  a  special  position  is  an  exception, 
there  is  a  strong  temptation  for  such  a  Negro  to  seek  advan- 
tage by  fostering  the  idea  that  he  is  unlike  others  of  his  race. 
The  devil  who  specializes  in  this  temptation  is  a  very  insinu- 
ating fellow;  he  keeps  a  mailing  list  of  "marginal  men"  of  all 
kinds  and  origins.  Incidentally,  one  of  the  by-products  of 
American  mores  is  the  heavy  moral  burden  which  this  tempta- 
tion puts  upon  the  host  of  Americans  who  have  by  great  ef- 
fort risen  from  (sic)  groups  which  are  the  objects  of  prejudice. 

There  may  be  cases  in  which  the  appearance  in  a  position 
of  one  or  a  few  individuals  of  a  kind  not  expected  there 
immediately  dissolves  the  auxiliary  expectations  which  make 
him  appear  odd.  This  is  not,  however,  the  usual  consequence. 
The  expectations  usually  continue  to  exist,  with  modifications 
and  with  exceptions  allowed. 

A  common  solution  is  some  elaboration  of  social  segrega- 
tion. The  woman  lawyer  may  become  a  lawyer  to  women 
clients,  or  she  may  specialize  in  some  kind  of  legal  service 
in  keeping  with  woman's  role  as  guardian  of  the  home  and 
of  morals.  Women  physicians  may  find  a  place  in  those  spe- 
cialities of  which  only  women  and  children  have  need.  A 
female  electrical  engineer  was  urged  by  the  dean  of  the  school 
from  which  she  had  just  been  graduated  to  accept  a  job  whose 
function  was  to  give  the  "woman's  angle"  to  design  of  house- 
hold electrical  appliances.  The  Negro  professional  man  finds 
his  clients  among  Negroes.  The  Negro  sociologist  generally 
studies  race  relations  and  teaches  in  a  Negro  college.  A  new 

[  114  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

figure  on  the  American  scene  is  the  Negro  personnel  man  in 
industries  which  have  started  employing  Negro  workers.  His 
functions  are  to  adjust  difficulties  of  Negro  workers,  settle 
minor  clashes  between  the  races,  and  to  interpret  manage- 
ment's policies  to  the  Negro  as  well  as  to  present  and  ex- 
plain the  Negro's  point  of  view  to  management.  It  is  a 
difficult  job.  Our  interest  for  the  moment,  however,  is  in 
the  fact  that  the  Negro,  promoted  to  this  position,  acts  only 
with  reference  to  Negro  employees.  Many  industries  have  had 
women  personnel  officials  to  act  with  reference  to  women. 
In  one  sense,  this  is  an  extension  of  the  earlier  and  still  exist- 
ing practice  of  hiring  from  among  a  new  ethnic  group  in 
industry  a  "straw  boss"  to  look  after  them.  The  "straw  boss" 
is  the  liaison  officer  reduced  to  lowest  terms. 

Another  solution,  which  also  results  in  a  kind  of  isolation 
if  not  in  segregation,  is  that  of  putting  the  new  people  in  the 
library  or  laboratory,  where  they  get  the  prestige  of  research 
people  but  are  out  of  the  way  of  patients  and  the  public. 
Recently,  industries  have  hired  a  good  many  Negro  chemists 
to  work  in  their  testing  and  research  laboratories.  The  chemist 
has  few  contacts  with  the  production  organization.  Promotion 
within  the  laboratory  will  put  the  Negro  in  charge  of  relatively 
few  people,  and  those  few  will  be  of  his  own  profession.  Such 
positions  do  not  ordinarily  lead  to  the  positions  of  correspond- 
ing importance  in  the  production  organization.  They  offer  a 
career  line  apart  from  the  main  streams  of  promotion  to 
power  and  prestige. 

These  solutions  reduce  the  force  of  status  contradiction 
by  keeping  the  new  person  apart  from  the  most  troublesome 
situations.  One  of  the  consequences  is  that  it  adds  new  stories 
to  the  superstructure  of  segregation.  The  Negro  hospital  and 
medical  school  are  the  formal  side  of  this.  The  Negro  per- 
sonnel man  and  foreman  show  it  within  the  structure  of  exist- 
ing institutions.  There  are  evidences  that  physicians  of  various 
ethnic  groups  are  being  drawn  into  a  separate  medical  system 


of  hospitals,  clinics,  and  schools,  partly  because  of  the  interest 
of  the  Roman  Catholic  Church  in  developing  separate  institu- 
tions but  also  partly  because  of  the  factors  here  discussed.  It 
is  doubtful  whether  women  will  develop  corresponding  sepa- 
rate systems  to  any  great  extent.  In  all  of  these  cases,  it  looks 
as  if  the  highest  point  which  a  member  of  these  odd  groups 
may  attain  is  determined  largely  by  the  number  of  people 
of  his  own  group  who  are  in  a  position  to  seek  his  services 
or  in  a  position  such  that  he  may  be  assigned  by  other  au- 
thority to  act  professionally  with  reference  to  them.  On  the 
other  hand,  the  kind  of  segregation  involved  may  lead  pro- 
fessional people,  or  others  advanced  to  special  positions,  to 
seek — as  compensation — monopoly  over  such  functions  with 
reference  to  their  own  group. 

Many  questions  are  raised  by  the  order  of  things  here 
discussed.  One  is  that  of  the  place  of  these  common  solutions 
of  status  conflict  in  the  evolution  of  the  relations  between 
the  sexes,  the  races,  and  the  ethnic  groups  of  our  society.  In 
what  circumstances  can  the  person  who  is  accepted  formally 
into  a  new  status,  and  then  informally  kept  within  the  limits 
of  the  kind  mentioned,  step  out  of  these  limits  and  become 
simply  a  lawyer,  foreman,  or  whatever?  Under  what  circum- 
stances, if  ever,  is  the  "hen  doctor"  simply  a  doctor?  And  who 
are  the  first  to  accept  her  as  such — her  colleagues  or  her 
patients?  Will  the  growth  of  a  separate  superstructure  over 
each  of  the  segregated  bottom  groups  of  our  society  tend  to 
perpetuate  indefinitely  the  racial  and  ethnic  division  already 
existing,  or  will  these  superstructures  lose  their  identity  in  the 
general  organization  of  society?  These  are  the  larger  questions. 

The  purpose  of  the  paper,  however,  is  not  to  answer  these 
large  questions.  It  is  rather  to  call  attention  to  this  character- 
istic phenomenon  of  our  heretogeneous  and  changing  society 
and  to  suggest  that  it  become  part  of  the  frame  of  reference 
of  those  who  are  observing  special  parts  of  the  American 
social  structure. 

The  Making  of  a  Physician 

Social  scientists  are  being  called  upon  more  and  more  to 
study  training  for  the  various  professions  and  to  consult  with 
those  who  make  policy  with  reference  to  it.  The  following 
pages  suggest  a  general  frame  of  reference  for  such  study. 
They  were  written  for  several  people,  both  medical  educators 
and  social  scientists,  who  were  thinking  of  embarking  on  a 
modest  study  tracing  the  course  of  students  through  the  maze 
of  a  particular  medical  school.  There  resulted  a  day-long 
discussion  which  was  of  great  value  in  planning  the  study. 
It  was  more  like  a  prolonged  group  interview  than  a  formal 
discussion.  While  the  ideas  refer  specifically  to  medicine,  they 
implicitly  refer  to  other  professions  as  well. 

The  Medical  Culture 

Each  of  the  great  historic  professions  is  concerned  with 
not  just  a  set  of  techniques  for  doing  some  useful  work,  but 
with  some  aspect  of  life  and/or  society,  itself.  And  when,  as 
often  happens,  an  occupation — either  an  old  one  transformed 
by  technical  or  social  changes,  or  a  new  one — claims  for  itself 
the  status  of  profession,  it  is  saying  to  the  world  that — like 

Human   Organization.   Vol.    14    (Winter,    1955),   pp.    21-25.    Reprinted 
with  permission. 


THE   MAKING  OF   A   PHYSICIAN  [  117  ] 

the  professions — the  work  it  does  has  somehow  become  a  mat- 
ter of  broad  public  concern. 

Medicine  is  the  prototype  of  the  professions  in  this  regard. 
As  Sigerist  so  well  demonstrates  in  the  first  chapter  of  his 
work,1  a  history  of  medicine  is  a  history  of  human  society 
and  culture,  of  its  metaphysics  as  well  as  of  its  physics,  of 
its  basic  philosophy  of  nature,  of  its  ideas  of  health  and  dis- 
ease, of  the  processes  of  therapy  (faith,  magic,  science,  and 
arts),  and  its  notions  about  the  proper  economy  and  distribu- 
tion of  goods  and  services,  including  healing  services  and 

These  ideas,  the  health  and  illness  aspect  of  a  culture,  are 
never  the  sole  possession  and  certainly  never  the  exclusive 
creation  of  those  who  devote  themselves  to  the  healing  arts. 
On  the  other  hand,  the  medical  culture  of  the  dominant  heal- 
ing profession  (or  professions,  for  they  are  not  so  united  in  all 
as  in  our  own  culture)  never  coincides  exactly  with  that  of 
the  lay  world.  The  relations  between  professional  medical 
culture  and  lay  medical  culture  have  varied  a  great  deal;  in 
our  part  of  the  world,  most  of  the  population  accepts  the 
basic  assumptions  of  the  former.  This  is  still  not  so  in  many 
parts  of  the  world;  and  where  it  is  not,  the  medical  profession 
faces  special  problems.  But  even  in  our  world  the  lay  public, 
or  parts  of  it  in  varying  degree,  does  not  accept  all  the  assump- 
tions, nor  the  therapeutic  and  preventive  measures  based  upon 
them.  Furthermore,  the  accumulation  of  medical  knowledge 
and  art  has  become  so  great  that  those  without  special  training 
are,  perhaps,  relatively  further  from  the  professional  in  rele- 
vant knowledge  and  skill  than  in  earlier  periods.  In  a  sense, 
we  are  more  dependent  upon  the  professionals  for  medical 
services  than  were  our  ancestors.  By  the  same  token,  only 
some  small  portion  of  medical  knowledge  and  skill  can  be 
mastered  by  each  member  of  the  profession  itself,  which  leads 

1.  Henry  E.  Sigerist,  A  History  of  Medicine,   Vol.    1,  Primitive  and 
Archaic  Medicine,  New  York,  1951,  "Introduction,"  pp.  3-101. 

[  118  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

to  there  being  subcultures  within  the  greater  professional 
medical  culture.  This  is  also  more  than  a  matter  of  technique 
and  knowledge;  it  has  roots  in  ideas  and  assumptions.  One 
can,  with  some  truth,  speak  of  the  medical  philosophy,  per- 
haps even  of  the  moral,  social,  or  economic  philosophy  of 
the  various  specialties;  one  can  at  least  speak  of  differences  of 
emphasis  among  them.  Some  of  the  specialties  may  even  be 
said  to  have  their  own  lay  publics — people  who  accept  their 
basic  philosophy  and  who  favor  their  approach  to  diagnosis 
and  treatment  rather  than  others. 

Medical  culture  goes  far  beyond  these  approaches.  For 
one  thing,  an  approach  to  health  may  carry  implications  about 
the  relations  of  physicians  to  each  other,  about  the  degrees 
of  cooperation  necessary  and/or  desirable  among  them.  For 
another,  from  the  very  nature  of  their  work,  physicians  can- 
not refrain  from  having  opinions  about  the  relations  of  physi- 
cians to  patients,  to  the  public,  and  to  the  many  other 
occupations,  enterprises  and  institutions  involved  in  health 
activities.  Professionals  and  laymen  might  accept  the  same 
assumptions  about  the  nature  of  disease  and  its  treatment, 
yet  differ  strongly  on  the  proper  relations  of  the  various 
parties  involved.  Indeed,  among  both  laity  and  the  profession 
there  are  differences  on  many  of  these  points  which  may  or 
may  not  be  related  to  specialties,  differences  in  social,  ethnic, 
or  regional  background  and  so  on. 

However  these  things  may  be,  it  is  beyond  dispute  that 
there  is  an  immense  and  elaborate  medical  culture  in  our 
world,  and  that  the  knowledge  and  attitudes  that  make  it  up 
are  distributed  in  various  ways  among  laity  and  the  medical 
profession  and  related  occupations. 

Medical  Education 

Medical  education  is  the  whole  series  of  processes  by 
which  the  medical  culture  is  kept  alive  (which  means  more 
than  merely  imparted)    through  time   and  generations,   by 

THE  MAKING  OF   A   PHYSICIAN  [  119  ] 

which  it  is  extended  to  new  populations  or  elements  of  the 
population,  and  by  which  it  is  added  to  through  new  learn- 
ing and  experiment.  The  education  of  the  medical  profes- 
sion is  part  of  it.  For  our  immediate  purposes  we  will  use 
the  phrase  medical  education  only  for  the  training  and  ini- 
tiation of  physicians,  although  there  is  a  certain  danger  of 
distortion  in  using  it  in  so  limited  a  way.  The  education  of 
the  members  of  the  medical  profession  is  a  set  of  planned 
and  unplanned  experiences  by  which  laymen,  usually  young 
and  acquainted  with  the  prevailing  lay  medical  culture,  be- 
come possessed  of  some  part  of  the  technical  and  scientific 
medical  culture  of  the  professionals.  The  starting  point  is 
the  lay  medical  culture;  the  end  point  varies,  although  the 
learning  experiences  are  somewhat  standardized  and  although 
all  must  take  standard  examinations  to  be  licensed.  But 
the  end  point  is  not  there,  for  in  varying  ways  and  degrees 
the  professionals  must  bring  what  they  have  learned  into 
effective  interaction  with  the  lay  medical  culture  again.  But 
with  a  difference — for  they  themselves  are  in  a  new  role. 

Part  of  the  medical  culture  of  the  lay  world  is  some  set 
of  conceptions  about  the  proper  role  of  the  physician  and  a 
set  of  beliefs  about  the  extent  to  which  he  lives  up  to  the 
role  so  conceived,  and  the  extent  to  which  and  the  ways  in 
which  he  falls  short.  Initiation  into  a  new  role  is  as  much  a 
part  of  medical  training  as  is  the  learning  of  techniques; 
indeed,  part  of  it  is  to  learn  the  techniques  of  playing  the 
role  well.  A  role  is  always  a  part  in  some  system  of  inter- 
action of  human  beings;  it  is  always  played  opposite  other 
roles.  To  play  one  is  not  to  play  another.  One  might  say 
that  the  learning  of  the  medical  role  consists  of  a  separation, 
almost  an  alienation,  of  the  student  from  the  lay  medical 
world;  a  passing  through  the  mirror  so  that  one  looks  out 
on  the  world  from  behind  it,  and  sees  things  as  in  mirror 
writing.  In  all  of  the  more  esoteric  occupations  we  have 
studied  we  find  the  sense  of  seeing  the  world  in  reverse. 

[  120  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

The  period  of  initiation  into  the  role  appears  to  be  one 
wherein  the  two  cultures,  lay  and  professional,  interact  within 
the  individual.  Such  interaction  undoubtedly  goes  on  all 
through  life,  but  it  seems  to  be  more  lively — more  exciting 
and  uncomfortable,  more  self-conscious  and  yet  perhaps  more 
deeply  unconscious — in  the  period  of  learning  and  initia- 
tion. To  take  one  example,  the  layman  has  to  learn  to  live 
with  the  uncertainty  if  not  of  ignorance,  at  least  of  lack  of 
technical  knowledge  of  his  own  illnesses;  the  physician  has 
to  live  with  and  act  in  spite  of  the  more  closely  calculated 
uncertainty  that  comes  with  knowing  the  limits  of  medical 
knowledge  and  his  own  skill. 

In  the  process  of  change  from  one  role  to  another  there 
are  occasions  when  other  people  expect  one  to  play  the  new 
role  before  one  feels  completely  identified  with  it  or  com- 
petent to  carry  it  out;  there  are  others  in  which  one  over- 
identifies  oneself  with  the  role,  but  is  not  accepted  in  it  by 
others.  These  and  other  possible  positions  between  roles  make 
of  an  individual  what  is  called  a  marginal  man;  either  he 
or  other  people  or  both  do  not  quite  know  to  what  role 
(identity,  reference  group)  to  refer  him.  We  need  studies 
which  will  discover  the  course  of  passage  from  the  laymen's 
estate  to  that  of  the  professional,  with  attention  to  the  crises 
and  the  dilemmas  of  role  which  arise. 

Stereotype  and  reality. — We  assume  that  anyone  embark- 
ing upon  the  road  to  medicine  has  some  set  of  ideas  about 
what  the  work  (skills  and  tasks)  of  the  physician  is,  about 
what  the  role  is,  what  the  various  medical  careers  are,  and 
about  himself  as  a  person  who  may  learn  the  skills,  play 
the  role,  and  follow  one  of  the  possible  career-lines.  We  as- 
sume also  that  except  in  cases  of  extraordinary  early  con- 
tact with  the  profession,  the  medical  aspirant's  conceptions 
of  all  these  things  are  somewhat  simpler  than  the  reality,  that 
they  may  be  somewhat  distorted  and  stereotyped  as  among 
lay  people.  Medical  education  becomes,  then,  the  learning 

THE   MAKING  OF   A   PHYSICIAN  [  121  ] 

of  the  more  complicated  reality  on  all  these  fronts.  It  may 
turn  out  that  it  makes  a  good  deal  of  difference  whether 
the  steps  toward  a  more  penetrating  and  sophisticated  real- 
ity on  one  of  these  points  come  early  or  late,  and  whether 
the  reality  is  learned  from  supporting  teachers  and  colleagues 
or  rubbed  in  by  punishing  cynics  or  stubborn  and  uncom- 
prehending patients.  It  may  be  that  the  more  complicated 
reality  is  in  some  circumstances  traumatic,  in  others,  excit- 
ing and  even  inspiring.  Perhaps  some  aspects  of  reality  can 
be  learned  in  an  early  phase  of  technical  training  and  experi- 
ence, while  others  can  be  effectively  learned  only  at  some 
later  point.  There  has  always  been  considerable  talk  in  edu- 
cational institutions  about  what  kinds  of  things  are  prerequi- 
sites for  others;  only  in  a  few  cases  does  it  appear  really  to 
be  known  what  should  come  first,  what  later — there  are 
those  who  say  that  geometry  should  come  before  algebra,  not 
after.  Some  question  the  time-honored  custom  of  having  stu- 
dents learn  anatomy  from  cadavers  rather  than  from  demon- 
strations with  living  persons.  In  the  study  of  professional 
education,  we  have  suggested  a  distinction  between  various 
kinds  of  prerequisites:  conventional  and  symbolic,  technical 
and  role-learning.  Learning  the  realities  of  medical  skills, 
roles  and  careers  may  move  pari  passu;  or  it  may  be  that 
some  of  the  roles  can  be  really  learned  only  when  a  certain 
level  of  skill  has  been  attained  and  certain  career  corners 
turned.  The  realities  about  career  problems  might  at  some 
points  put  a  damper  on  the  student's  eagerness  to  learn  skills 
and  roles;  at  another  point,  a  new  knowledge  of  career 
realities  might  be  a  stimulus  to  work  on  the  other  fronts. 

In  professional,  as  in  other  lines  of  work,  there  grows 
up  both  inside  and  outside  some  conception  of  what  the 
essential  work  of  the  occupation  is  or  should  be.  In  any 
occupation,  people  perform  a  variety  of  tasks,  some  of  them 
approaching  more  closely  the  ideal  or  symbolic  work  of  the 
profession  than  others.  Some  tasks  are  considered  nuisances 

[  122  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

and  impositions,  or  even  dirty  work — physically,  socially 
or  morally  beneath  the  dignity  of  the  profession.  Part  of 
what  goes  on  with  respect  to  a  major  aspect  of  life  at  whose 
center  is  a  profession,  such  as  the  medical,  is  a  constant 
sorting  and  resorting  of  the  tasks  involved  among  many  kinds 
of  people — inside  the  profession,  in  related  professions,  and 
clear  outside  professional  ranks.  The  preparation  of  drugs, 
the  taking  of  blood  pressures,  the  giving  of  anaesthetics,  the 
keeping  of  medical  records,  the  collection  of  bills,  the  clean- 
ing up  of  operating  rooms,  the  administration  of  hospitals — 
these  are  but  a  few  of  the  tasks  which  have  been  allocated 
and  reallocated  within  the  medical  division  of  labor  in  fairly 
recent  years.  There  is  constant  discussion  of  what  is  whose 
work  in  medicine  and  what  part  of  it  all  is  the  physician's 
work,  privilege  and  duty.  We  assume  that  the  medical  stu- 
dent is  inducted  into  the  discussion  of  these  problems,  and 
that  it  has  some  effect  upon  his  motivation  and  his  sense  of 
mission.  We  may  suppose  that  the  essential,  symbolically- 
valued  part  of  the  physician's  work  is  diagnosis  and  treatment 
of  the  ailments  of  people,  and  that  the  other  activities  are — 
in  theory  at  least — tolerated  only  as  they  appear  necessary 
to  it.  What,  then,  are  considered  essential  auxiliary  or  periph- 
eral activities,  and  what  attitudes  do  physicians  hold  toward 
them  and  the  people  who  perform  them?  Hospitals  must  be 
administered,  and  there  are  some  who  believe  that  physi- 
cians alone  should  do  it.  Yet,  physicians  do  not  ordinarily 
gain  great  prestige  by  becoming  administrators — indeed,  some 
who  are  say  they  are  scarcely  considered  medical  colleagues 
any  longer.  On  the  other  hand,  there  is  some  tendency  for 
auxiliary  activities  to  become  valued  ends  in  themselves, 
sometimes  even  getting  in  the  way  of  the  presumed  basic 
activity  (as  discipline  becomes  an  end  in  itself  in  schools 
and,  some  say,  in  nursing). 

The  increasing  variety  of  the  central  and,  symbolically, 
most  valued  of  medical  activities  themselves  is  reflected  in 

THE   MAKING  OF   A   PHYSICIAN  [  123  ] 

the  number  of  medical  specialties.  Some  of  the  specialties  are 
rated  above  others  both  by  laymen  and  the  profession,  al- 
though these  ratings  are  not  necessarily  the  same.  We  may 
assume  that  as  the  student  learns  various  skills  and  sees  at 
closer  hand  the  actual  tasks  of  his  future  trade,  he  will  un- 
dergo changes  of  attitude  toward  them  as  components  of 
medical  work. 

Just  as  certain  tasks  and  skills  of  medical  work  are  rated 
above  others,  so  also  are  the  men  who  perform  them.  But 
we  must  remember  that  the  various  medical  tasks  differ  from 
each  other  not  merely  in  the  knowledge  and  technical  skill 
required,  but  in  the  social  relations  and  social  roles  involved. 
The  model  member  of  the  profession  is  a  man  of  certain 
skills  and  knowledge,  one  who  keeps  proper  balance  between 
the  more  and  the  less  valued  activities  of  the  profession,  and 
who  plays  his  role  well  in  relation  to  himself,  his  colleagues, 
other  personnel  in  medical  work,  and  toward  his  patients 
and  the  public.  As  in  other  professions,  we  may  find  that 
some  models  are — like  the  saints — considered  a  little  too 
good  for  ordinary  men  to  be  expected  to  imitate  in  daily 
practice,  although  they  are  admired  as  embodiments  of  the 
highest  values  of  the  profession.  A  study  of  medical  edu- 
cation should  discover  not  merely  the  saintly  models,  but 
also  those  the  student  regards  as  more  practically  (even  a 
bit  cynically)  attainable  by  himself,  the  mold  being  as  it  is, 
and  he  being  who  he  is.  The  shift  in  choice  of  models  by  the 
student,  his  definite  steps  or  his  drifting  into  the  path  that 
leads  to  one  model  rather  than  others,  is  a  significant  part 
of  his  medical  education.  This  is,  of  course,  not  merely 
choice  of  specialty,  but  of  various  ways  of  practicing  medi- 
cine: practice,  teaching,  research;  practice  in  one  social  en- 
vironment rather  than  another:  rural  or  urban,  well-off  or 
poor,  where  the  health  standard  of  living  is  high  or  is  low, 
among  his  own  or  among  other  kinds  of  people;  alone  or  in 
association  with  others;  for  salary  or  for  fees;  where  com- 

[  124  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

petition  is  keen  or  where  there  is  more  security,  etc.  These 
matters  may  all  enter  as  components  into  models  to  be  ad- 
mired or  followed,  which  is  to  say  that,  as  suggested  above, 
a  model  in  effect  embodies  the  whole  professional  ideology 
of  those  who  choose  it. 

The  models  of  the  medical  world  are,  of  course,  not  free 
of  influence  from  the  ideologies  of  other  aspects  of  modern 
life.  We  should  investigate  the  extent  to  which  the  image 
of  the  model  businessman  has  colored  that  of  the  model 
physician.  Although  the  world  of  business  uses  the  term  pri- 
vate entrepreneur  there  is  plenty  of  evidence  that  the  model 
businessman  is  seen  as  a  team  worker  rather  than  a  person 
who  goes  it  alone.  It  is  possible  that  in  some  respects  the 
medical  model  is  a  hangover  from  the  outmoded  one  of  the 
business  world.  Given  current  trends  in  medical  organiza- 
tion, it  seems  obviously  important  to  discover  not  merely 
the  extent  to  which  the  go-it-alone  model  prevails  as  against 
the  team-work  model,  but  also  to  find  out  what  influences 
continue  to  reinforce  it. 

The  conception  of  the  model  physician  contains,  by  im- 
plication, clues  to  the  nature  of  the  model  patient.  There 
may  be  a  good  deal  of  ambivalence  on  this  point,  since  few 
students  are  so  unrealistic  as  to  believe  they  can  get  a  practice 
consisting  of  only  one  kind  of  patient  (as  to  troubles,  per- 
sonal, social,  or  economic  characteristics),  or  so  divinely 
endowed  and  blissfully  ambitious  that  they  can  in  fact  get 
such  a  clientele.  It  is  recognized,  too,  that  all  people  must 
be  served  in  some  fashion.  Yet  there  are  conceptions  of  the 
ideal  patient:  about  what  is  wrong  with  him,  about  his  social 
and  economic  characteristics,  about  his  acceptance  of  the 
physician's  authority  and  prescriptions,  his  understanding, 
his  co-operation  and  his  gratitude.  There  are  apparently  at 
least  three  important  components  in  these  conceptions:  the 
nature  of  the  illness  and  its  amenability  to  treatment;  the 
nature  of  the  interaction  between  the  patient  in  his  role  with 

THE  MAKING  OF   A   PHYSICIAN  [  125  ] 

the  physician  in  his;  and,  finally,  the  effect  of  the  patient 
on  the  physician's  career  (income,  reputation,  development 
of  further  skill,  fulfillment  of  his  self -concept  as  a  physician). 

We  have  said  little  directly  about  the  nature  of  social 
roles,  and  will  make  only  a  few  remarks  on  the  subject  since, 
by  implication,  the  problem  of  role  is  found  throughout.  In 
one  sense,  a  role  is  what  a  man  expects  of  himself  and  what 
others  expect  of  him  in  certain  situations.  People  sometimes 
expect  miracles  of  physicians;  the  physician  has  to  learn 
how  to  handle  this  expectation  in  such  a  way  as  to  give  his 
patients  both  the  best  chance  of  getting  well  and  the  least 
chance  of  disillusionment.  This  is  the  eternal  problem  of  help- 
ing people  to  face  uncertainty,  or  unwelcome  certainty  (as 
the  case  may  be) ,  the  problem  of  maintaining  balance  in  the 
relations  between  the  more  skilled  partner  (the  physician) 
and  the  less  skilled,  but  more  crucially- affected  partner  (the 
patient) .  Man  of  understanding,  man  of  patience,  confidante, 
advisor,  pillar  of  strength — and  their  opposites — these  are 
terms  having  to  do  with  roles,  rather  than  with  techniques 
as  such. 

They  all  involve  other  people,  or  oneself  considered  in 
one's  relations  to  other  people.  Everyone  has  to  work  out 
the  weights  he  will  give  to  the  various  parties  to  the  work 
drama  in  which  he  has  a  role.  Will  he  play  it  for  the  pa- 
tients alone,  dramatizing  himself  as  their  champion  against 
the  profession  itself?  Taken  to  the  extreme,  this  is  quackery 
in  a  strict  sociological  sense,  whether  or  not  the  man  be  com- 
petent in  his  methods  of  diagnosis  and  practice.  There  are 
people  who  play  their  roles  before  their  colleagues  alone, 
or  before  some  of  their  colleagues  rather  than  others;  still 
others  may  be  moved  by  peculiar  conceptions  of  their  own 
rights  and  duties,  impervious  alike  to  colleague  and  patient. 
These  may  be  the  true  missionaries,  the  sectarians  who  have 
no  judge  except  God  himself.  Every  man  finds  his  "signifi- 
cant others,"  with  whom  he  identifies  himself  so  that  he 

[  126  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

listens  to  their  voices  rather  than  to  others.  This  is  what  is 
meant  by  the  recently-adopted  term,  "reference  group."  Since 
there  are  a  number  of  crucial  reference  groups  in  modern 
medicine,  it  becomes  part  of  the  problem  of  the  student  to 
find  some  balance  between  his  sensitivity  to  them,  his  own 
configuration  of  significant  others.  Different  configurations 
may  be  associated  with  selection  of  the  specialties  and  the 
ways  of  practicing  mentioned  above. 

It  is  also  likely  that  as  he  goes  through  his  medical  edu- 
cation, the  aspirant  will  veer  from  one  toward  another  of 
his  significant  others;  at  one  time  feeling  the  aches  and  pains 
of  the  patient  more  acutely  than  the  patients  themselves;  at 
another  sharing  the  angry  cynicism  of  those  colleagues  who 
say,  in  their  hour  of  disillusion  with  ungrateful  humanity, 
that  the  only  thing  to  do  is  get  yours  while  you  can;  at 
another,  feeling  the  exhilaration  of  wonder-working,  and 
yielding  a  bit  to  the  blandishments  of  admiring  nurses,  stu- 
dents, and  grateful  patients;  and  at  still  another,  suffering 
the  pangs  of  uncertainty  of  his  trade  and  feeling  sorry  for 

This  leads  to  the  problem  of  self-conception  and  discovery 
of  self.  A  person's  conception  of  himself  is  itself  something 
of  a  stereotype,  to  which  parents,  teachers,  siblings,  peers, 
and  his  own  dreams  have  contributed.  Some  people  project 
themselves  far  into  the  future,  others  operate  more  or  less  in 
the  present.  But  in  either  case,  there  come  moments  of  nec- 
essary revision  and  adjustment  of  one's  notions  about  what 
he  can  do  and  wants  to  do.  One  may  say,  then,  that  a  young 
man  thinking  about  himself  as  a  physician  is  thinking  about 
a  young  man  as  yet  somewhat  unknown  to  himself,  doing 
work  and  playing  roles  not  yet  known,  in  situations  he  has 
never  yet  been  in.  This  is  not  to  underestimate  the  anticipa- 
tory playing  of  roles;  but  no  matter  how  sensitive  the  indi- 
vidual's anticipation  of  himself  in  a  future  role,  there  is  some 
gap  between   anticipation   and  realization.   Certainly,   there 

THE   MAKING   OF   A   PHYSICIAN  [  127  ] 

are  more  young  men  in  premedical  school  who  think  of  them- 
selves as  potential  surgeons  than  can  ever  be  surgeons,  given 
the  qualities  necessary  and  the  proportion  of  the  medical 
profession  who  make  their  living  as  such.  There  are  also 
fewer  who  expect  to  end  up  in  public  health  than  actually 
will.  As  he  proceeds  through  medical  training  and  into  prac- 
tice, the  young  man  may  be  expected  to  get  not  merely  a 
better  notion  of  the  skills  required,  of  the  tasks  to  be  per- 
formed, of  the  roles  to  be  played,  and  of  the  positions  to  be 
attained  in  the  medical  world  and  the  roads  which  lead  to- 
ward them,  but  also  to  adjust  his  conception  of  his  own 
mental,  physical  and  personal  aptitudes,  his  tastes  and  dis- 
tastes, and  of  the  chances  that  a  person  of  his  particular  social 
and  economic  qualities  and  family  circumstances  may  acquire 
the  skills,  the  roles  and  the  positions  available. 

This  is  an  economics  of  self-conception.  The  importance 
of  this  to  the  distribution  of  physicians  among  specialties  and 
ways  of  practicing  is  obvious.  Again  we  have  to  deal  with 
the  problems  of  fateful  or  crucial  choice.  A  person  may  make 
a  discovery  about  himself  only  after  he  has  passed  the  point 
of  crucial  decision  to  do  the  kind  of  work  he  would  now 
like  to  have  been  able  to  do.  In  the  concrete,  this  means 
that  one  cannot  enter  medicine  at  all  unless  one  has  had 
certain  schooling  by  a  certain  age;  that  some  specialties 
have  to  be  adopted  far  earlier  than  others;  that  some  require 
a  longer  period  of  doing  without  income;  that  a  wife  who 
is  a  handicap  in  one  kind  of  practice  might  be  a  great  asset 
in  another;  that,  while  one  can  master  the  skills  of  a  certain 
specialty,  one  has  no  taste  or  aptness  for  the  social  roles 
required.  A  study  of  the  progressive  self-discovery  of  students 
passing  through  the  maze  of  medical  school  and  training 
might  be  used  by  those  who  plan  the  experiences  which  have 
a  bearing  on  the  choice  of  effective  models,  of  specialties, 
and  of  the  ways  and  places  of  practice  by  medical  students. 

Career.  One  of  the  problems  in  the  study  of  a  profession 

[  128  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

is  to  discover  the  career-lines  of  people  who  follow  it.  This 
in  turn  requires  identification  of  the  significant  phases  of 
careers,  and  the  sequences  in  which  they  occur.  Sequences 
occur  in  all  the  matters  we  have  discussed  thus  far.  Some  of 
them  are  institutionalized — as  the  sequence  from  premedical 
phase,  to  medical  student,  to  intern,  resident,  practicing  physi- 
cian, diplomate  of  a  specialty  body,  etc.  Others  are  not  so 
formally  institutionalized  and  named,  but  are  well  known. 
Still  others  are  more  or  less  unnoticed  or  not  admitted  (but 
nevertheless  often  anticipated  or  feared)  regularities  of  change 
from  one  ill-defined  phase  to  another.  One  changes  from  a 
young  man  with  teachers  and  mentors  to  whom  he  may 
turn,  into  an  older  man  who  has  become  a  teacher  and  a 
sponsor,  even  a  father-figure  to  younger  men.  Or  one  finds 
that  one  has  less  time  for  the  clinic  and  the  laboratory  be- 
cause of  the  increase  of  administrative  demands  upon  one's 
time.  One  aspect  of  career  is  just  these  shifts  from  one  weight- 
ing or  combination  of  activities  to  another.  It  is  well  known 
that  these  shifts  are  accompanied  by  anxieties,  such  as  shown 
in  the  dream  of  a  young  woman  who  had  just  been  made 
a  supervisor  of  nursing  in  a  large  hospital.  She  dreamed 
that  she  suddenly  had  to  get  a  patient  into  a  respirator  at 
night,  and  that  she  had  either  forgotten  how,  or  else  a  new 
model  had  been  brought  in — and  she  fumbled  while  the  pa- 
tient gasped.  The  shift  from  one  kind  of  activity  to  another 
entails  the  danger  of  losing  a  skill;  it  is  also  a  shift  from 
one  kind  of  responsibility  to  another,  from  one  role  to  another. 
There  are,  in  any  kind  of  career  line,  points  of  negative 
and  positive  crucial  decision.  For  example,  if  I  have  not  re- 
ceived my  specialty  residence  in  a  certain  kind  of  hospital 
by  a  certain  age,  certain  further  steps  are  closed.  There  is 
also  always  before  a  young  man  the  question  whether,  when, 
and  how  often  to  move  from  one  place  of  work  to  another. 
Some  lines  of  work,  and  some  specialties  within  medicine, 
show  different  patterns  of  relation  between  moving  and  sue- 

THE   MAKING   OF    A   PHYSICIAN  [  129  ] 

cess.  One  would  expect  that  the  career  of  a  man  going  into 
private  practice  might  be  more  crucially  affected  by  his  first 
choice  of  a  place  to  practice  than  is  the  career  of  a  man  who 
goes  in  for  pathology,  teaching,  or  any  of  the  specialties  in 
which  work  for  salary  is  the  rule.  There  is,  in  institutions  or 
systems,  a  certain  balance  between  home-guard  success  and 
itinerant  success.  The  home-guard  are  the  people  who  make 
their  careers  with  little  or  no  itineracy;  the  itinerants  progress 
by  moving  from  one  place  or  institution  to  another.  Those 
who  get  ahead  by  moving — from  say,  smaller  to  larger  schools 
or  hospitals — have  to  decide  whether  to  move  in  a  small 
orbit  (state  or  region)  or  in  a  large,  perhaps  national  or  in- 
ternational, orbit.  The  decision,  or  the  fact — whether  it  be 
by  conscious  decision  or  by  default — of  operating  in  a  small 
or  in  a  large  orbit  involves  the  choice  of  significant  others 
(reference  groups),  the  people  on  whose  good  opinion  one 
stakes  one's  reputation;  those  whom  one  can  afford  to  pay 
less  attention  to;  and  those,  perhaps,  from  whom  one  must 
dissociate  oneself.  It  involves,  in  short,  the  choice  of  his 
closer  colleagues,  the  people  who  will  refer  cases  to  him, 
the  people  who  will  think  of  him  when  they  want  a  team- 
mate, the  people  who  see  his  potentialities  and  help  him  to 
realize  them. 

Career  is,  in  fact,  a  sort  of  running  adjustment  between 
a  man  and  the  various  facts  of  life  and  of  his  professional 
world.  It  involves  the  running  of  risks,  for  his  career  is  his 
ultimate  enterprise,  his  laying  of  his  bets  on  his  one  and 
only  life.  It  contains  a  set  of  projections  of  himself  into  the 
future,  and  a  set  of  predictions  about  the  course  of  events 
in  the  medical  world  itself.  Much  is  to  be  learned  about 
career  lines,  how  they  are  conceived  by  the  students  of 
medicine  and  how  their  personal  and  social  backgrounds, 
school  and  other  training  experiences,  predispose  or  turn 
them  in  one  or  another  of  the  many  directions  in  which  a 
medical  man  may  go.  It  is  the  sum  total  of  these  dispositions 

[  130  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

and  turnings  that  gives  us  the  kind  of  distribution  of  physi- 
cians we  have  among  the  various  ways  of  practicing  and 
the  various  places  and  settings  within  which  medicine  is  prac- 
ticed, whether  that  distribution  be  good  or  poor. 

We  are  in  a  time  of  great  change  in  the  institutions  of 
medicine.  Not  only  is  their  inner  structure  changing  so  that 
the  available  positions  and  careers  and  the  demands,  made 
upon  those  who  fill  them  are  in  flux  both  in  number  and 
kind,  but  there  are  more  and  more  ancillary  institutions, 
more  and  more  connections  of  medicine  with  the  other  con- 
cerns and  institutions  of  the  world.  The  younger  physician's 
projection  of  himself  into  the  future  is  consequently  a  projec- 
tion with  more  unknowns  in  it  than  ever  before.  The  whole 
trend  of  the  system  itself  is  something  of  an  unknown.  So 
that  the  problem  becomes  in  part  that  of  adjusting  to  run- 
ning, never-completed  adjustment.  Some  will  doubtless  ac- 
cept the  implications  of  such  open-endedness  more  than  others; 
some  may  indeed  make  it  part  of  their  identity  to  be  men 
who  do  not  seek  a  fixed  identity,  men  whose  constant  is 
that  they  are  open  to  change,  or  even  men  who  seek  the 
spots  where  change  is  the  major  assignment.  Others  may 
seek,  successfully  or  not,  the  spots  which  appear  most  fixed, 
the  bastions  that  appear  safe  from  storming.  We  may  find  a 
home-guard  of  time,  as  well  as  of  space. 

We  need  studies  which  will  run  these  various  lines  of 
inquiry  concurrently,  starting  in  the  premedical  phase  and 
following  the  aspirant  through  into  his  early  years  of  prac- 
tice. That  is,  studies  which  take  him  from  the  time  when 
he  is  most  nearly  like  a  layman  in  his  medical  culture,  through 
the  full  cycle  of  whatever  happens  to  him  in  school,  to  that 
time  in  the  early  years  of  practice  when  he  is  fully  a  member 
of  the  profession,  both  in  his  own  mind  and  in  that  of  most 
people  who  know  him. 


Professions  in  Transition 

The  occupations  historically  known  as  professions  are  un- 
dergoing great  changes  in  the  organization  of  their  work. 
Medicine,  in  response  to  changes  in  both  medical  technology 
and  philosophy,  has  been  broken  up  into  many  specialties. 
There  has  also  been  a  phenomenal  increase  in  the  equip- 
ment used  in  diagnosis  and  treatment  of  patients.  One  result 
has  been  concentration  of  the  bulky  and  expensive  equipment, 
of  the  physicians  themselves,  and  of  many  other  kinds  of 
help  into  great  clinics  and  hospitals.  The  patients  now  come 
to  the  equipment  and  the  physician.  This,  in  turn,  has  brought 
drastic  changes  in  the  physician's  relations  to  his  colleagues, 
his  patients,  and  also  makes  it  necessary  for  him  to  deal  with 
many  new  kinds  of  medical  workers;  the  contingencies  of 
his  career  are  now,  in  large  part,  those  of  his  relations  to 

The  client  of  the  lawyer  is  more  and  more  often  an  or- 
ganization— a  limited  liability  company,  an  association,  a 
government  bureau;  less  often  an  individual.  To  serve  rich  and 
huge  corporate  clients  lawyers  have  been  gathered  into  large 

This  chapter  is  based  somewhat  on  "Discussion  of  the  Bryan  Report," 
in  Asheim,  Lester  (ed.)>  A  Forum  on  the  Public  Library  Inquiry  (New 
York,  1950),  pp.  106-14. 


[  132  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

firms  where  each  man  can  specialize  in  some  line  of  law.  The 
lawyer  who  practices  alone  in  a  large  American  city  is,  indeed, 
a  lawyer  in  name  only;  he  does  little  of  the  legal  reasoning 
and  of  the  skillful  arguing  which  are  considered  true  law 
work.  The  young  lawyer  goes,  more  and  more  often,  directly 
from  law  school  to  a  firm  which  pays  him  a  salary;  he  has  a 
single  employer  instead  of  many  clients. 

The  professions,  although  they  are  prospering  under  these 
changes,  are  made  uneasy  by  them.  For  in  these  historic  pro- 
fessions— the  free  professions,  as  they  are  called  in  German — 
the  individual  practitioner  is  supposed  to  stand  in  a  fiduciary 
relation  which  he  must  scrupulously  keep  clean  of  interests 
which  arise  out  of  his  relation  to  other  clients.  The  current 
trends  appear  to  endanger  this  supposedly  simple  relation  of 
professional  with  client.  Oddly  enough,  however,  just  at  this 
moment  of  transition  in  the  organization  of  their  practice, 
the  professions  apparently  enjoy  a  prestige  greater  than  ever 
before.  Furthermore,  it  is  a  time  of  trend  toward  profession- 
alism, according  to  the  most  important  article  of  recent  years 
on  the  place  of  professions  in  society,  "The  Recent  History 
of  Professionalism  in  Relation  to  Social  Structure  and  Social 
Policy,"  by  T.  H.  Marshall.1  He  refers  to  the  fact  that  a  good 
many  services  formerly  carried  out  in  an  informal  way  by 
amateurs  are  now  performed  by  specialists  who  work  in  large 
private  or  public  organizations.  They  require  people  of  high 
literary  and  technical  training,  and  whose  quality  of  effort 
can  be  trusted.  For  while,  says  Marshall,  caveat  emptor  may 
make  some  sense  when  one  buys  goods  which  he  can  see  in 
advance,  it  is  utter  nonsense  in  relation  to  services  which  one 
can  never  see  in  advance.  A.  M.  Carr-Saunders  and  P.  A. 
Wilson,2  writing  of  the  same  trend,  have  shown  the  steps  which 

1.  T.  H.  Marshall,  "The  Recent  History  of  Professionalism  in  Rela- 
tion to  Social  Structure  and  Social  Policy,"  The  Canadian  Journal  of  Eco- 
nomics and  Political  Science,  V  (August,   1939),  pp.  325-34. 

2.  A.  M.  Carr-Saunders  and  P.  A.  Wilson,  The  Professions  (Oxford, 


an  occupation  goes  through  in  trying  to  establish  itself  as  a 

And  this  is  the  second  sense  in  which  this  is  a  time  of 
professions  in  transition:  The  practitioners  of  many  occupa- 
tions— some  new,  some  old — are  self-consciously  attempting 
to  achieve  recognition  as  professionals.  Among  them  are 
librarians,  social  workers,  and  nurses.  As  long  as  there  have 
been  libraries,  there  have  been  people  who  kept  them,  but 
the  librarian  that  we  now  know  is  a  product  of  the  prolifer- 
ation of  public  and  other  libraries  which  seek  to  circulate 
rather  than  merely  to  hoard  books.  The  sick  apparently  have 
always  been  nursed,  but  nursing  as  we  know  it  is  something 
still  taking  form  in  the  modern  hospital  and  public  health 
agency;  Florence  Nightingale  is  already  obsolete,  except  as 
a  symbolic  founding  mother.  Assistance  and  counsel  have 
always  been  given  to  those  in  trouble,  but  social  work,  too, 
is  a  newcomer  and  a  striver  among  the  professions.  All  these 
occupations,  in  their  present  form,  result  from  new  technical 
development,  social  movements  and/or  new  social  institutions. 
The  old  service  or  function,  formerly  performed  by  amateurs 
or  for  pay  by  people  of  little  or  no  formal  training,  comes  to 
be  the  lifework  of  a  large  and  increasing  number  of  people. 
Its  basic  techniques  are  changed.  Most  of  the  new  professions, 
or  would-be  professions,  are  practised  only  in  connection 
with  an  institution.  Their  story  is  thus  that  of  the  founding, 
proliferation  or  transformation  of  some  category  of  institu- 
tions: schools,  social  agencies,  hospitals,  libraries,  and  many 
others.  Whether  the  institution  be  new  or  whether  it  be  an 
old  one  transformed,  there  is  likely  to  be  a  struggle  of  the 
new  profession  with  the  other  occupations  involved  (if  there 
are  any),  and  with  the  laymen  who  have  some  voice  in  the 
institution — a  struggle  for  definition  of  the  part  of  each  in 
the  functioning  of  the  institution. 

At  first,  the  people  who  are  recruited  to  the  occupation 
come,  of  necessity,  from  other  occupations.  If  they  are  women, 

[  134  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

many  of  them  may  have  had  no  previous  gainful  occupation. 
They  will  be  of  various  social  backgrounds,  ages,  and  kinds 
of  education.  Some  are  more  amateur  than  professional.  In 
time,  the  question  of  training  arises.  The  first  people  to  take 
formal  training,  when  schools  for  the  purpose  are  established, 
are  likely  to  be  people  already  at  work  in  the  occupation.  As 
time  goes  on,  the  occupation  and  its  training  schools  become 
better  known,  and  young  people  are  recruited  at  the  same 
age  as  for  other  schools.  The  training  school  itself  generally 
starts  as  a  vocational  school,  without  college  or  university 
connections  and  with  terms  of  study  that  do  not  correspond 
to  the  academic  calendar.  The  early  teachers  are  enthusiastic 
leaders  of  a  movement,  or  protagonists  of  some  new  technique 
(such  as  case  work),  who  have  little  conventional  academic 
training  and  who  find  their  colleagues  in  the  new  movement 
rather  than  in  the  academic  world.  They,  or  some  leader 
among  them,  institute  a  curriculum  which  is  likely  to  persist 
for  some  time  and  to  be  thought  so  sacred  that  to  propose  to 
alter  it  drastically  is  considered  heretical. 

In  time,  the  training  schools  may  seek  and  gain  connec- 
tion with  universities,  some  of  which  compete  for  students 
and  for  the  prestige  and  money  accorded  the  new  profession. 
At  this  point,  there  may  be  a  new  wave  of  later  seekers  of 
special  training;  as  in  nursing,  where  a  whole  generation  of 
leaders  sought  academic  degrees  some  years  after  having 
completed  their  nonacademic  professional  training. 

The  development  continues  in  the  direction  of  standard 
terms  of  study,  academic  degrees,  eventually  higher  degrees, 
research  in  some  field  or  fields  considered  proper  to  the  pro- 
fession and  the  institution  in  which  it  operates,  and  a  con- 
tinuing corps  of  people  who  teach  rather  than  practice  the 
profession  directly.  At  the  same  time,  prerequisites  to  the 
professional  training  will  be  multiplied,  with  the  result — 
intended  or  not — of  requiring  candidates  for  the  occupation 
to  decide  earlier  to  enter  training,  and  to  make  a  "firm  com- 


mitment."  By  increasing  the  length  of  the  training,  the  time 
and  social  cost  of  leaving  training,  once  it  is  started,  becomes 
greater.  The  standardized  schooling  and  training  become, 
in  the  successful  case,  effectively  the  licence  to  work  at  the 

These  developments  inevitably  bring  a  campaign  to  sep- 
arate the  sheep  from  the  goats,  to  set  up  categories  of  truly 
professional  and  of  less-than-professional  people.  This  takes 
time,  because  many  people  in  the  occupation  do  not  have 
the  full  new  training,  and  because  those  who  have  power  of 
appointment  to  places  do  not  fully  accept  the  occupational 
group's  right  to  say  who  can  be  hired  for  the  work.  The  pro- 
fessional group  will  go  through  a  process  of  self-consciously 
studying  its  work  and  deciding  what  functions  are  really  pro- 
fessional and  what  can  be  delegated  to  nonprofessional  or 
less-than-professional  people.  Nurses  are  delegating  much  of 
their  former  work  to  practical  nurses,  aides,  and  maids,  while 
continually  taking  on  new  duties  assigned  to  them  by  phy- 
sicians and  the  administrators  of  hospitals.  The  librarians 
are  in  a  campaign  to  rid  themselves  of  purely  clerical  work, 
so  that  they  may  follow  their  true  work,  that  of  advising 
people  about  what  to  read.  So  far  as  this  sorting  out  of  func- 
tions is  successful,  it  has  a  double  effect.  Some  functions  are 
down-graded:  bed-making  and  housekeeping  for  nurses;  the 
dusting,  handling,  chasing,  cataloguing,  date-stamping  of 
books  for  librarians;  "means  test"  interviewing  for  social 
workers.  The  people  who  do  them  are  also  down-graded,  or 
else  a  new  category  of  non-professional  or  less-than-profes- 
sional people  is  introduced  into  the  system  to  perform  these 
infra  dignitate  tasks.  This  development  has  been  especially 
marked  in  nursing,  aided  by  a  shortage  of  help  in  hospitals. 
It  is  just  now  being  talked  of  in  teaching,  where  it  is  proposed 
that  there  should  be  master  teachers  who  do  naught  but  teach, 
while  others  counsel  pupils,  correct  papers,  and  keep  discipline. 

Even  among  those  who  qualify  as  fully  professional,  some 

[  136  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

will  be  swept  more  completely  than  others  into  the  main 
stream  of  change  and  professionalization.  Some  will  have 
drifted  into  the  occupation,  and  will  not  want  to  leave  home 
to  take  new  jobs.  Others,  more  fully  committed  and  more 
alert  to  the  new  developments  will  move  from  place  to  place 
seeking  ever  more  interesting,  prestigeful  and  perhaps,  more 
profitable  positions.  The  latter  become  itinerants,  interchange- 
able parts  in  the  larger  system  of  things,  at  home  in  any  given 
place  not  because  of  personal  attachments,  but  because  of 
the  work  to  be  done  and  the  conditions  of  doing  it.  Those 
who  stay  longer  in  one  place,  whether  because  they  have  no 
opportunity  to  move,  or  because  they  have  attachments,  build 
even  more  attachments,  becoming  less  movable  and  perhaps 
more  resistant  to  the  itinerants  and  the  changes  the  latter 
propose  and  promote.  The  two  styles  of  careers,  the  home- 
guard  and  the  itinerant,  may  show  up  as  a  chronic  tension 
in  the  institutions  in  which  the  professionals  work,  the  itiner- 
ants as  a  rule  fancying  themselves  as  the  more  professional, 
the  home-guard  perhaps  thinking  of  themselves  as  having  the 
interests  of  the  home  community  or  institution  at  heart  and 
fearing  that  the  itinerants  may  try  to  relegate  them  to  the 
limbo  of  the  less-than-professional. 

At  this  point  problems  of  morale  and  career  develop. 
Shall  the  people  who  start  in  the  nonprofessional  or  less-than- 
professional  auxiliary  occupations  be  kept  there,  or  shall  the 
door  be  kept  ajar  for  them  to  get  further  training  and  become 
professionals?  This  may  be  an  important  point  of  policy  for 
a  profession  and  for  institutions  faced  with  recruiting  prob- 
lems. If  the  decision  whether  to  enter  one  of  the  less-than-pro- 
fessional auxiliary  trades  or  the  profession  itself  must  be  made 
earlier  and  irrevocably  it  can  affect  both  the  number  and  the 
quality  of  recruits  as  well  as  the  relations  between  the  profes- 
sionals and  others  at  work.  It  is  also  likely  that  if  the  decision 
to  enter  the  profession  must  be  made  earlier,  the  number  of 
people  who  enter  for  security's  sake  may  increase,  while  the 


number  of  enthusiastic  mavericks — so  numerous  among  the 
founders — will  be  reduced.  This  may  be  happening  both  in 
teaching  and  in  nursing,  although  there  are  a  few  experiments 
being  made  in  the  recruiting  of  bright  and  well-educated 

From  all  of  this  there  flows  the  question  common  to  all 
new  professions  and  by  no  means  uncommon  among  older 
ones:  for  what  are  the  people  being  trained,  anyway?  A 
recent  study  of  librarians  gives  the  impression  that  the  most 
successful  librarian  is  no  longer  a  librarian,  but  an  adminis- 
trator {she  becomes  a  he  in  the  course  of  it  in  many  cases). 
This  in  varying  degree  is  also  true  of  nurses,  social  workers, 
and  engineers.  It  has  become  an  acute  problem  in  a  number 
of  occupations,  although  not  quite  yet  in  universities,  for 
professors  still  look  down  their  noses  at  deans  and  department 
chairmen,  except  when  they  want  some  dirty  work  done,  or 
need  money.  In  a  considerable  number  of  professions  the 
basic  techniques  and  intellectual  skills  are  becoming  something 
one  learns  as  a  condition  of  getting  on  the  ladder  of  mobility. 
The  engineer  who,  at  forty,  can  still  use  a  slide  rule  or  logar- 
ithmic table,  and  make  a  true  drawing,  is  a  failure.  Hence 
the  old  remark  of  condescension  mingled  with  respect:  "The 
old  man  has  forgotten  more  than  you  will  ever  know."  It 
might  be  that  the  advanced  library  schools  are  merely  insti- 
tutions where  people  get  themselves  groomed  to  stop  being 
librarians  and  become  administrators,  just  as  graduate  depart- 
ments of  education  are  said  to  serve  the  purpose  of  moving 
people  from  the  little  circuits  to  the  big  tent  circuit  in  school 
administration.  If  the  line  of  promotion  in  a  profession  is  in 
the  direction  of  administration,  what  should  the  professional 
training  be?  And  if  the  professional  school  becomes  a  grad- 
uate school  culminating  in  a  Ph.D. — for  which  a  piece  of 
"research"  is  required — must  one  not  ask  whether  this  is 
either  the  best  way  to  get  research  done  or  the  best  way  to 
train  administrators?  A  piece  of  research  done  as  part  of 

[  138  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

training  for  promotion  to  a  position  where  one  will  no  longer 
have  to  do  research  may  probably  have  some  of  the  faults 
of  a  diagnosis  done  with  an  eye  on  what  diagnostic  procedures 
the  patient  can  pay  for.  But  we  are  now  talking  of  problems 
which  may  arise  in  any  profession,  new  or  old,  when  the 
practice  of  it  becomes  involved  in  complicated  institutional 
settings.  The  new  professions,  being  so  involved  from  the 
beginning,  may  give  us  some  of  our  best  clues  for  analyzing 
the  problems  of  the  old. 


Science  and/or  Profession 

Let  me  set  before  you  three  occupational  models:  a 
science,  a  business,  and  a  profession.  Each  of  these,  in  the 
purest  case,  shows  a  system  of  social  interaction  different 
from  the  others  in  crucial  respects.  There  are  other  models, 
but  these  appear  the  most  useful  ones  to  those  who  are 
discussing  the  institutional  aspect  of  the  occupation  of 

Scientists,  in  the  purest  case,  do  not  have  clients.  They 
discover,  systematize,  and  communicate  knowledge  about 
some  order  of  phenomena.  They  may  be  guided  by  a  faith 
that  society  at  large  and  in  the  long  run  will  benefit  from 
continued  increase  of  knowledge  about  nature;  but  the  vari- 
ous actions  of  the  scientist,  qua  scientist,  are  undertaken  be- 
cause they  add  to  knowledge,  not  because  of  any  immediate 
benefit  to  any  individual  or  group  which  may  be  considered 
his  client.  The  test  of  the  scientists'  work  lies  in  convincing 
communication  of  it  to  colleagues,  communication  so  full  and 

The  American  Psychologist.  Vol.  7  (August,  1952),  pp.  441-43.  Re- 
printed with  permission.  The  discussion  was  written  at  the  request  of  a 
committee  of  the  American  Psychological  Association,  appointed  to  con- 
sider a  code  of  ethics  for  psychologists. 


[  140  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

so  precise  that  any  of  them  can  undertake  to  test  the  validity 
of  claimed  findings  by  following  the  same  procedures.  Scien- 
tists chafe  under  secrecy.  If  laymen  do  not  receive  full  report 
of  work  done,  it  is  simply  because  they  are  not  sophisticated 
enough  to  understand  the  report.  The  great  point  in  the 
scientist's  code  is  full  and  honest  reporting  to  his  colleagues, 
and,  with  it,  willingness  to  submit  to  full  criticism.  Since  this 
is  so,  and  since  no  client  is  involved,  scientists  ordinarily  do 
not  seek  the  protection  of  state  licence.  Informal  controls  are 

The  second  model  is  that  of  a  business.  In  purest  form, 
business  goes  on  among  traders.  Since  the  customer  is  also 
a  trader,  he  is  presumed  to  be  as  sophisticated  about  the 
object  traded  in  as  is  the  seller.  The  trading  is  a  game.  The 
principle  of  caveat  emptor  can  apply  without  injury  to  any- 
one. As  in  all  games,  however,  there  are  rules  designed  to 
allow  the  game  to  continue.  There  is  no  sense  letting  anyone 
in  who  lacks  the  resources  to  make  good  his  deals,  or  the 
skill  to  keep  the  game  going.  Hence,  stock  exchanges  have 
limited  memberships.  But  the  state  and  the  public  are  not 
especially  considered  in  making  the  rules  of  entrance  to  the 
game  and  the  rules  of  play. 

Not  all  business  is  of  this  pure  form,  for  goods  are  eventu- 
ally sold  to  an  amateur,  a  consumer.  The  consumer  may 
know  what  he  likes,  but  he  is  not  expected  to  be  as  good  a 
judge  of  what  he  buys  as  is  the  man  who  sold  it  to  him.  He 
expects  some  little  protection  from  unscrupulous  sellers  who 
would  impose  upon  his  ignorance.  Caveat  emptor  tends  to  be 
limited,  but  not  completely — witness  the  tongue-in-cheek 
"pitch"  of  advertising.  The  customer  often,  in  moments  of 
annoyance,  initiates  action  to  license  sellers  or  to  otherwise 
protect  the  customers  from  them.  I  introduce  this  model  merely 
to  high-light  the  third,  that  of  a  profession. 

The  people  in  a  profession  make  their  living  by  giving 
an  esoteric  service.  Nowadays  it  is  commonly  said  that  the 

psychology:  science  and/or  profession  [  141  ] 

service  is  based  upon  a  science  or,  as  in  the  case  of  engineer- 
ing and  medicine,  a  number  of  sciences.  The  essence  of  the 
matter  appears,  however,  to  be  that  the  client  is  not  in  a  posi- 
tion to  judge  for  himself  the  quality  of  the  service  he  receives. 
He  comes  to  the  professional  because  he  has  met  a  problem 
which  he  cannot  himself  handle.  It  may  be  a  matter  of  life 
or  death  for  himself  or  a  loved  one;  of  gaining  or  losing  a 
family  farm,  or  one's  freedom  and  reputation;  of  having  one's 
dream  of  a  house  turn  into  wonderful  reality  or  a  white 
elephant.  He  has  some  idea  of  the  result  he  wants;  little,  of 
the  means  or  even  of  the  possibility  of  attaining  it.  Indeed, 
he  may  want  an  impossible  result,  and  be  bitterly  resentful 
of  the  professional  man's  judgment  that  it  is  impossible.  But 
the  time  comes  when  the  physician  cannot  prolong  a  life. 
All  patients  are  lost  in  the  long  run.  Half  of  all  cases  contested 
at  law  are  lost;  there  is  a  losing  side.  All  professions  fail  in 
some  measure  to  achieve  what  their  clients  want,  or  think 
they  want,  of  them.  Furthermore,  members — even  the  best — 
of  all  professions  make  mistakes  of  judgment  and  of  tech- 
nique. The  result  of  all  this  is  that  those  in  the  profes- 
sion do  not  want  the  principle  of  caveat  emptor  to  apply. 
They  do  not  want  the  client  to  make  an  individual  judg- 
ment about  the  competence  of  practitioners  or  about  the 
quality  of  work  done  for  him.  The  interaction  between  pro- 
fessional and  client  is  such  that  the  professionals  strive  to 
keep  all  serious  judgments  of  competence  within  the  circle 
of  recognized  colleagues.  A  licensing  system  adds  the  support 
of  the  state  to  some  mechanism  established  by  the  profession 
itself  for  this  purpose.  It  is  as  if  competence  became  an  attri- 
bute of  the  profession  as  a  whole,  rather  than  of  individuals 
as  such.  Thus  the  public  is  to  be  protected  from  its  own  in- 
competence and  from  its  own  impossible  demands,  in  that 
"quacks" — who  might  exploit  them — will  not  be  allowed  to 
practice.  And  the  professional,  for  his  part,  is  protected  from 
his  own  mistakes  and  from  the  allegation  that  he  may  have 

[  142  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

made  one,  by  the  fiction  that  all  licensed  professionals  are 
competent  and  ethical  until  found  otherwise  by  their  peers. 
The  profession  sets  up  institutions  which  make  clients'  judg- 
ments of  secondary  importance  and  colleagues'  judgments 
paramount.  These  institutions  will  of  necessity  require  some 
arrangements  for  secret  discussion.  For  it  is  shocking  and  pain- 
ful to  clients  to  hear  their  problems  discussed  as  objectively 
as  must  be  in  deciding  whether  a  professional  did,  in  fact, 
show  competence  and  whether  he  acted  in  accordance  with 
the  professional  code.  In  such  discussion  the  question  of 
competence  is  discussed  in  complete  separation  from  the  out- 
come for  the  client.  In  protecting  the  reputation  of  the  pro- 
fession and  the  professional  from  unjust  criticism,  and  in 
protecting  the  client  from  incompetent  members  of  the  profes- 
sion, secrecy  can  scarcely  be  avoided.  Secrecy  and  institutional 
sanctions  thus  arise  in  the  profession  as  they  do  not  in  the 
pure  science. 

I  have  dwelt  upon  the  professional  conception  because  it 
is  so  highly  valued  in  the  western  world,  and  especially  in 
North  America.  The  people,  or  some  people,  in  many  occupa- 
tions have  sought  to  have  their  work  conform  to  the  profes- 
sional model  and  to  be  known  by  the  professional  name. 
Social  workers,  librarians,  and  many  business  occupations 
have  tried  it.  The  steps  taken  are  much  the  same  in  the  various 
instances.  Courses  of  study  are  established,  and,  if  possible, 
professional  schools  are  founded  and  attached  to  universities. 
Prerequisites  are  required  so  that  a  person  entering  the  oc- 
cupation must  decide  to  do  so  earlier.  Eventually  some  body  is 
set  up  to  accredit  schools  and  specify  the  curriculum.  Devices 
are  adopted  to  define  more  sharply  who  is  and  who  is  not 
properly  in  the  occupation.  Canons  of  proper  practice,  proper 
relations  to  clients  (or  employers),  proper  relations  between 
colleagues,  etc.,  are  set  up.  Although  the  steps  are  essentially 
the  same,  the  results  vary  greatly.  The  public  may  not  accept 
the  professional  definitions  and  may  continue  to  take  their 

psychology:  science  and/or  profession  [  143  ] 

troubles  to  people  not  admitted  to  the  professional  group. 
Employers  may  simply  hire  people  without  consulting  the 
professional  group  as  to  their  membership  or  competence. 
Shrines  and  various  kinds  of  irregular  practitioners  continue 
through  the  ages  to  treat  the  cases  which  doctors  declare 
either  incurable  or  imaginary.  Sometimes  the  curriculum  of 
the  professional  schools  may  be  hardened  before  the  techniques 
have  really  been  tested  in  practice  or  in  a  laboratory.  This 
happened  in  social  work  and  in  library  schools.  I  do  not  know 
whether  these  things  have  happened  or  will  do  so  in  psychol- 
ogy. I  only  point  out  that  they  are  things  which  do  happen 
in  the  course  of  professionalizing  occupations. 

It  is  fairly  evident  that  psychologists  are  torn  between  the 
professional  and  the  scientific  conceptions  of  their  work. 
Only  their  enemies  charge  them  with  pursuit  of  the  busi- 
ness conception.  Now  medicine  has  been  plagued  by  this 
conflict  through  many  years.  The  marriage  between  clinic 
and  laboratory  is  still  an  uneasy  one.  The  wonder-working 
surgeon  (they  do  work  wonders)  is  still  not  quite  at  ease 
with  the  sceptical  pathologist  down  in  the  laboratory.  The 
practicing  physician,  meeting  as  best  he  can  the  emergencies 
of  patients  who  refuse  to  get  made-to-order  troubles,  feels 
inferior  before  his  patient  and  learned  brethren  of  the  great 
research  schools  and  foundations;  he  also  resents  their  de- 
tached, leisurely  criticism  of  his  hasty  blunders. 

The  medical  solution,  at  least  the  one  prevailing  at  pres- 
ent, is  to  instruct  physicians  in  science  but  not  to  train  them 
to  be  scientific  investigators.  Any  physician  who  learns  to 
do  research  in  a  science  related  to  medicine,  does  so  either 
in  prolonged  residencies  in  research  hospitals  or  by  taking 
advanced  work  in  one  or  more  sciences  in  a  graduate  school. 
There  are  people  who  believe  that  a  great  deal  of  the  time 
spent  in  medical  school  is  wasted,  unless  it  be  admitted  that 
sheer  initiation  into  the  fraternity  is  a  good  way  to  have 
young  men  spend  time.  However  that  may  be,  the  medical 

[  144  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

profession  has  succeeded  in  enforcing  a  highly  standardized 
curriculum  upon  all  who  would  be  called  doctors  of  medi- 
cine, no  matter  what  skills  and  knowledge  an  individual 
may  use  in  his  particular  branch  of  work.  Training  in  sci- 
entific research  comes  later,  for  the  few  who  want  it.  I  do 
not  know  whether  psychology  could  institutionalize  its  con- 
flict in  such  a  way.  But  my  point  is  not  so  much  the  par- 
ticular solution  as  the  fact  itself  that  there  is  a  continuing, 
deep  conflict  between  the  model  of  science  and  that  of  pro- 
fessional practice  of  medicine.  In  many  individuals,  it  is 
an  ambivalence. 

I  suspect  that  psychology's  problem  is  of  this  order.  I 
also  think  it  likely  that  whatever  solutions  are  arrived  at 
will  be  compromises.  They  will  be  better  compromises  if 
no  one  has  any  illusions  about  settling  the  problem  once 
and  for  all;  if  it  is  kept  in  mind  that  the  conflict  lies  deep  in 
many  occupations,  and  that  all  solutions  to  it  are  tentative, 
based  on  limited  time  predictions  about  the  effects  of  various 


The  "Gleichschaltung"  of 
The  German  Statistical  Yearbook: 
A  Case  in  Professional  Neutrality 

The  very  same  engineer,  it  is  said,  kept  the  waterworks 
of  Paris  going  before,  during,  and  after  the  French  Revolu- 
tion. The  architects  of  the  great  cathedrals  of  the  middle 
ages  caricatured  bishops  and  saints  in  durable  stone.  Some 
professions,  it  seems,  have  licence  to  be  more  politically  or 
ideologically  detached  than  others;  freer  to  hold  opinions 
not  those  of  the  prevailing  powers,  or  even — heresy  of 
heresies — to  hold  no  opinion  at  all  on  the  burning  issues  of 
the  time.  Societies  and  epochs  also  quite  obviously  differ  in 
their  demands  for  conformity;  all  but  the  most  doctrinaire 
and  totalitarian  societies  appear  to  demand  more  conformity 
and  more  commitment  from  some  kinds  of  people  than  from 

The  physician  is  generally  thought  to  have  a  large  measure 
of  licence  to  be  neutral.  His  magic  is  wanted  alike  by  believer 
and  infidel.  He  is  supposed  to  be  as  impartial  as  illness  and 
death  themselves.  His  diagnostic  and  therapeutic  decisions 
are  expected  to  be  free  of  any  extraneous  influence.  A  certain 

The  American  Statistician.  Vol.  IX  (Dec,  1955),  pp.  8-11. 


[  146  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

halo  of  freedom  to  be  neutral  in  other  things  as  well  as  in 
his  medical  judgments  seems  to  gather  about  his  head.  Yet 
his  freedom  is  neither  absolute  nor  complete.  In  the  Soviet 
Union  the  physician  who  declares  too  many  people  ill  enough 
to  stay  away  from  work  may  be  called  to  account:1 

The  scarce  and  indispensable  natural  scientist  may  also 
be  allowed  a  good  deal  of  political  neutrality,  although  he 
too  may  be  questioned  not  merely  about  his  opinions,  but 
also  about  his  friends.  Social  scientists  perhaps  require  more, 
but  expect  less  of  such  freedom.  Among  them  it  is  perhaps 
those  who  deal  exclusively  with  the  numbers  and  movements 
of  goods  and  people  who  would  consider  themselves  most 
neutral.  They  might  also  think  their  jobs — whether  they  work 
in  universities  or  in  government  bureaus — most  safe  from 
variable  high  winds  of  social  doctrine,  from  the  coming  and 
going  of  parties,  and  even  from  the  vicissitudes  of  revolution. 
Will  not  any  government  need  statistical  information  of  un- 
questioned reliability  in  making  and  executing  its  policies? 

Such  thoughts  came  to  my  mind  when,  in  the  summer  of 
1953,  my  eye  caught  this  heading  of  a  table  in  the  Statistical 
Yearbook  of  the  German  Reich  for  1941-2:  "Racial  Class- 
ification of  People  Who  Married  in  1938."  It  was  the  last 
such  Yearbook  published  by  the  National  Socialist  Govern- 
ment of  Adolf  Hitler.  From  earlier  work  with  German  official 
statistics,  I  was  practically  certain  that  the  pre-Nazi  German 
had  had  a  religion,  but  not  a  race.  The  statistical  German  was 
the  opposite  of  the  statistical  American,  who  had  a  race  but  no 
religion.  The  accident  of  noticing  this  change  of  categories 
in  the  German  census  led  me  to  ask  a  question:  What  changes 
did  the  statistician  of  the  German  Reich  have  to  make  in  his 
official  Yearbook  when  the  Nazis  came  to  power?  Behind 
it  lie  more  general  questions  for  professional  statisticians:  How 
politically  neutral  is  their  work?  To  what  extent  are  the  very 

1.  Field,  Mark  G.,  "Structured  Strain  in  the  Role  of  the  Soviet  Physi- 
cian," American  Journal  of  Sociology.  LVIII  (March,   1953),  pp.  493-502. 


categories  in  which  they  report  their  data  subject  to  political 

I  do  not  know  the  answers  to  these  general  questions. 
But  I  did  go  through  all  of  the  German  statistical  yearbooks 
from  the  last  one  of  the  pre-Nazi  Weimar  Republic,  1932, 
through  the  Nazi  period,  and  including  the  first  post-war  vol- 
ume, to  see  what  changes  of  category  and  of  reporting  oc- 
curred along  with  the  radical  political  changes.  I  don't  know 
how  deeply  the  Nazis  dug  into  the  private  opinions  of  the 
Reich  statistician,  or  whether  Party  people  were  put  in  his 
office  to  watch  over  him.  I  have  only  the  internal  evidence 
of  the  Statistical  Yearbooks  themselves.  The  last  Weimar 
volume,  and  all  of  the  Nazi  Yearbooks  except  the  last  are 
signed  by  one  Dr.  Reichardt  of  the  Reich  Statistical  Office. 
The  last  Nazi  volume,  1941-42,  is  signed  Godlewski.  Whether 
Dr.  Reichardt  simply  reached  the  age  of  retirement  about 
the  end  of  1940  or  whether  he  finally  turned  out  to  be  not 
sufficiently  gleichgeschaltet  (coordinated),  I  don't  know. 
Many  a  man  did  try  to  get  on  with  his  work  by  making  little 
compromises,  only  to  find  one  day  that  it  was  impossible  to 
continue  and  fatal  to  quit.  I  must  add  that  I  do  not  know 
what  happened  to  Godlewski  either;  he  certainly  did  not 
sign  the  first  Yearbook  of  the  new  Bonn  republic. 

The  Foreword  to  the  last  pre-Nazi  Yearbook,  1932,  is 
the  exact,  dull  little  statement  one  expects  of  a  faithful  public 
servant  who  is  accustomed  to  going  modestly  on  with  his 
work  while  prime  ministers  and  cabinets  come  and  go.  It 
contains  no  word  about  parties  or  government  policies.  It 
uses  no  political  symbol.  When,  in  November,  1933,  Dr. 
Reichardt  signed  the  next  Yearbook,  Hitler  had  been  Reichs- 
chancellor for  the  better  part  of  a  year.  The  Foreword  takes 
no  notice  of  the  change.  It  is  the  same  little  businesslike 
statement  about  the  contents  of  the  book.  In  the  next  Fore- 
word, 1934,  however,  Dr.  Reichardt  feels  called  upon  to  tell 
the  reader  that  the  Yearbook  now  contains  a  series  of  "German 

[  148  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

economic  curves,  showing  the  economic  events  since  the 
taking  over  of  power  by  the  National  Socialist  regime."  In 
1935,  the  mention  becomes  a  plug,  "In  the  many  tables  of 
the  Yearbook  there  come  to  expression  the  powerful  accom- 
plishments made  by  the  New  State  in  all  fields  of  folk  and 
economic  life  in  the  three  years  since  the  taking  over  of 
power  by  the  National  Socialist  regime."  He  especially  notes 
the  great  success  of  measures  against  unemployment.  In  pass- 
ing he  mentions  some  new  family  statistics,  and  tables  on  the 
Special  Census  of  the  Occupational  and  Social  Distribution 
of  Glaubensjuden  (Jews  by  faith)  and  Foreigners. 

From  1935  on,  the  Foreword  always  tells  how  many 
years  it  has  been  since  the  National  Socialists  took  power, 
and  reports  in  more  and  more  glowing  terms  the  accomplish- 
ments of  the  New  State.  The  statement  is  typically  like  this, 
"The  Yearbook  gives  an  accounting  in  sober,  but  eloquent 
figures  of  the  measures  taken  by  the  New  State  in  all  fields 
of  folk  and  economic  life,  and  the  results  in  population, 
economics  and  in  cultural  and  political  affairs."  Dr.  Reichardt 
even  notes  that  the  Yearbook  has  to  be  bigger  because  of  the 
increased  activity  of  the  New  State.  From  1936  on,  curves 
showing  economic  progress  are  put  on  the  inside  of  the  front 
cover  where  they  are  the  first  thing  to  be  seen  when  one 
opens  the  book.  In  1938  the  flyleaf  shows  a  map  entitled 
"Folk  and  Space  since  the  Assumption  of  Power."  It  shows 
how  the  empire  has  been  expanded  by  the  assimilation  of 
Austria  and  Sudetenland.  In  1939-40,  a  similar  map  shows 
most  of  Western  Europe  under  German  "protection."  Under 
the  map  is  a  summary  table  showing  the  increase  of  territory 
and  population  accomplished  by  the  New  State.  Dr.  Reichardt 
tells  us  in  his  1938  Foreword  that  the  Yearbook  now  reports 
the  Greater  German  Reich;  he  regrets  that  not  many  of  the 
tables  take  account  of  the  new  territories,  since  comparable 
statistics  do  not  yet  exist.  The  last  two  books,  done  in  war- 
time, no  longer  bother  to  plug  for  the  New  State.  A  brief 


Foreword  says  that  the  Yearbook  was  produced  under  dif- 
ficulties, "because  the  needs  of  the  State  and  the  Party  require 
it."  Readers  are  enjoined,  under  penalty,  to  keep  copies  in 
metal  safes  and  to  divulge  the  contents  to  no  one  not  in 
government  service. 

The  1932  Yearbook  shows  the  results  of  all  Reichstag 
elections  from  1919  to  1932,  with  the  number  of  votes  for 
each  party.  The  most  recent  election,  that  of  July  31,  1932, 
was  reported  in  even  greater  detail.  The  1933  book  gives 
the  same  summary  of  past  elections,  and  includes  the  detail 
of  two  new  elections.  One  was  the  election  of  November, 

1932,  in  which  there  was  a  considerable  decline  of  the  Nazi 
vote.  In  spite  of  that,  Hindenburg  had  called  upon  Hitler  to 
form  a  government.  The  other  was  the  election  of  March, 

1933,  the  only  free  election  in  the  Hitler  time;  in  it  the  Social 
Democrats  held  their  own,  the  Catholic  Centre  gained  a 
little,  and  the  Nazis  gained  tremendously.  The  Communists 
apparently  contributed  most  to  the  Nazi  increase,  since  they 
lost  a  million  votes  from  November,  before  Hitler  came  in, 
to  March,  just  after  he  came  to  power.  But  this  is  an  aside. 
The  Yearbook  merely  reports  the  figures.  In  1934  and  after, 
each  Yearbook  reports  only  the  new-style  Yes  and  No  elec- 
tions of  the  current  year.  I  do  not  know  whether  Dr.  Reichardt 
was  told  to  stop  reporting  the  elections  of  the  late  Weimar 
Republic,  or  whether  he  gave  it  up  for  purely  technical  reasons. 
It  would  make  no  sense  to  try  to  compare  the  results  of  free 
elections  in  which  a  dozen  or  more  parties  struggled  for 
slight  gains  in  their  popular  vote  and  for  more  seats  in  parlia- 
ment with  those  of  the  new  style,  high-pressure  plebiscites 
in  which  the  choice  was  to  be  for  or  against  Hitler.  Maybe 
Dr.  Reichardt  was  not  coordinated  on  this  point;  it  was  suf- 
ficient that  the  elections  were  coordinated. 

But  this  Yearbook  did  not  even  bother  to  compare  the 
Nazi  elections  with  one  another.  Perhaps  the  Nazis  missed 
a  propaganda  chance  here;  for  it  is  quite  an  accomplishment 

[  150  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

to  increase  a  party's  vote  from  43.9%  of  the  total  to  95.3% 
in  the  course  of  a  few  months,  as  did  the  Nazis  between  March 
and  November,  1933.  Of  course,  the  percentage  for  the 
Fuehrer  dropped  back  to  89.9%  in  August,  1934,  but  they 
soon  got  it  up  again.  In  1936,  99.5%  of  all  qualified  voters 
did  their  duty,  and  98.8%  did  it  right  by  casting  ballots  "For 
the  List  and  for  the  Fuehrer."  There  were  by  now  so  few 
negative  votes  that  the  statistical  office  simply  lumped  them 
together  with  the  invalid  ballots.  After  the  great  success  in 
getting  an  expression  of  the  people's  will  to  follow  the  leader 
in  1936,  there  was  no  new  plebiscite  until  the  empire  had 
expanded  to  take  in  more  of  the  German  folk.  In  April,  1938, 
the  Austrians  were  allowed  to  show  how  devoted  they  were 
to  the  Fuehrer  and  how  glad  to  be  absorbed  by  the  New 
State.  The  Sudeten  Germans  were  given  the  same  privilege 
in  due  time.  After  that  there  were  no  plebiscites.  The  war 
was  on.  But  in  the  reporting  of  1938  elections  in  the  1939 
Yearbook  a  slight  change  was  made.  What  had  been  called 
Austria  in  1938  was  now  called  "former  Austria."  One  must 
remember  that  the  German  name  for  Austria  means  Eastern 
Empire,  obviously  not  a  fit  name  for  a  rather  insignificant 
part  of  the  all-inclusive  eternal  Greater  German  Empire. 

Race  in  the  pre-Nazi  Yearbooks,  was  a  characteristic  of 
stallions.  The  number  of  their  registered  services  for  the 
propagation  of  their  respective  races  was  faithfully  recorded 
in  the  agricultural  part  of  the  book.  Men,  on  the  other  hand, 
had  religion.  They  were  Christians  of  Protestant  or  Roman- 
Catholic  confession,  or  they  were  Israelites.  That  took  in  most 
Germans;  a  handful  of  others  were  lumped  together.  The 
1932  book  showed  how  many  of  each  of  these  categories 
had  lived  in  various  parts  and  in  the  whole  of  Germany  in 
1910  and  in  1925.  The  only  other  tables  of  religion  are 
those  which  show  the  religion  of  each  partner  in  all  marriages 
of  the  previous  year.  Religion  is  indirectly  shown  in  the 
tables  of  membership  in  trade  unions  and  professional  organ- 


izations,  for  some  such  organizations  were  Catholic  or  Protes- 
tant. None  was  specifically  Jewish.  In  the  first  Hitler  Year- 
book, 1933,  the  references  to  religion  are  exactly  as  before — 
with  one  exception.  The  trade  unions  had  already  been 
dissolved.  The  book  listed  the  divisions  of  the  new  Labor 
Front,  but  regretted  that  membership  figures  were  not  yet 
available.  They  were  not  in  the  next  book,  or  the  one  after 
that,  or  ever.  Perhaps,  since  all  workers  belonged  to  the 
Labor  Front  by  definition,  it  would  have  been  silly  to  give 
figures;  they  would  have  been  the  same  as  the  f  ures  of 
people  employed  in  each  occupation  and  industry. 

The  expressions  Jew,  Jewess,  and  Jewish  do  not  occur 
in  the  pre-Nazi  books  or  in  the  first  Hitler  Yearbook,  1933. 
Some  people  were  of  Israelite  religion;  some  men  and  women 
of  Israelite  religion  were  married  to  women  and  men  of  the 
same  religion  or  of  Protestant,  Roman  Catholic  or  other 
faiths.  That  was  all.  The  1934  Yearbook  reports  a  new  reli- 
gious Census  made  in  1933,  and  compares  the  religious 
composition  of  the  population  of  that  year  with  that  of  1925. 
The  1910  comparison  was  dropped.  The  same  words  are 
still  used  for  the  various  religions.  But  in  1935,  although  the 
same  figures  and  the  same  words  were  used,  there  is  a  whole 
new  set  of  tables  which  tell  us  all  about  some  people  called 
Glaubensjuden,  of  whom  a  special  census  had  been  taken 
on  the  16th  of  June,  1933.  They  must  be  the  same  people 
who  were  formerly  of  Israelite  religion,  because  there  are 
exactly  as  many  of  them.  But  the  change  is  more  than  one  of 
name.  The  1935  Yearbook  picks  these  Glaubensjuden  out 
for  special  attention  not  given  people  of  other  religions.  We 
are  shown  what  percent  Jews  form  of  the  population  in  all 
geographic  divisions;  how  many  of  them  live  in  cities  of  more 
than  100,000,  more  than  50,000  and  so  on.  The  Jewish 
populations  of  Berlin,  Hamburg,  Frankfurt,  Breslau  and  a 
few  other  large  cities  are  shown  in  a  separate  table.  The 
places  of  birth  of  Jews  are  tabulated,  also  the  number  and 

[  152  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

percent  of  them  who  are  of  German  or  foreign  birth,  and 
subjects  of  Germany  or  of  other  countries. 

By  this  time,  the  Nuremberg  laws  had  made  a  distinction 
between  people  who  are  subjects  of  Germany  and  those  who 
are  citizens.  The  Jews  were  subjects  but  could  not  be  citizens. 
No  such  facts  are  presented  for  the  population  at  large,  or  for 
Protestants  or  Catholics.  It  is  clear  that  statistics  on  the  Jews 
are  of  special  interest  to  the  government.  We  may  fairly 
assume  that  the  statistician  had  been  told  to  prepare  special 
data  on  Jews — and  to  change  their  names.  The  name  Glaub- 
ensjuden  (Jews  by  faith)  is  still  one  without  racial  connota- 
tion. Only  in  the  tables  on  marriages  and  the  religion  of 
people  who  were  born  or  who  died  in  Prussia  were  there 
still  people  of  Israelite  religion.  In  fact,  Israelites  continued 
to  be  born,  get  married,  and  to  die  right  down  until  1939-40, 
while  people  called  "Jews  by  faith"  had  occupations  and 
lived  in  various  places.  In  the  1939-40  Yearbook  this  name 
is  dropped,  and  tables  give  us  some  new  categories  which 
take  account  of  the  finer  distinctions  of  the  Nuremberg  laws: 
Jews,  Jewish  mixtures  of  the  first  degree  and  Jewish  mixtures 
of  the  second  degree  in  all  parts  of  Germany,  including 
Austria,  for  1939.  The  same  book  still  gives  a  table  on  the 
religion  of  the  people,  including  Israelite.  But  in  1941-42, 
there  is  no  longer  an  Israelite  religion  in  German  statistics. 
The  religious  categories  are  Protestant,  Roman  Catholic, 
Believers  in  God,  and  others.  The  Gleichschaltung  of  the 
statistics  is  complete.  Jews  are  a  race,  not  a  religious  group. 
German  statistical  segregation  is  also  complete.  Jews  appear 
nowhere  as  simply  another  category  of  people  in  tables  which 
include  other  Germans.  There  is  one  little  exception:  the 
good  old  Prussian  vital  statistics  still  show  that  people  of 
Israelite  religion  are  born  and  die.  The  Prussian  civil  servant 
is  a  stubborn  fellow.  He  does  his  duty,  come  what  may.  Or 
maybe  no  one  issued  a  new  form  for  recording  births  and 


deaths  in  Prussia,  and  the  officials  just  had  to  go  on  using 
the  old  ones. 

Of  all  Israelite  women  married  in  1930,  one  in  eight 
married  a  Christian;  of  Israelite  men,  one  in  four  married  a 
Christian.  From  1933  on,  these  proportions  constantly  de- 
creased. In  1936,  about  one  in  fifty  married  out.  The  people 
of  Germany  were  being  gleichgeschaltet;  but  the  statistical 
Yearbook  stuck  to  its  old  form  of  reporting  marriages  by 
religion.  Only  in  1939-40  does  racial  reporting  take  the  place 
of  religious  in  marriage  tables.  There  is  in  the  book  of  that 
year  a  table  showing  the  "Racial  Classification  of  People 
Who  Married  in  1938."  Marriage  partners  are  now  of  five 
kinds:  German-blooded,  Jewish  mixtures  of  the  first  degree, 
Jewish  mixtures  of  the  second  degree,  Jews  and  Jewesses, 
and  persons  of  other  foreign  blood.  Twenty-five  German- 
blooded  men  married  Jewesses,  and  thirty-three  Jewish  men 
married  German-blooded  women  in  that  year.  But  these 
traitors  to  German  blood  were  nearly  all  of  foreign  nation- 
ality; in  1939,  no  German-blooded  subject  of  the  Reich 
married  a  Jew  or  Jewess.  Gleichschaltung  both  of  marriage 
and  marriage  statistics  was  complete. 

The  Reich  statistician  was  prodded,  I  suspect,  into  setting 
up  tables  and  graphs  to  show  at  a  glance  the  progress  of 
the  New  State's  program  of  prosperity  and  territorial  expan- 
sion. He  never  showed  in  a  summary  and  graphic  way  the 
success  of  the  program  to  rid  the  country  and  the  folk  of 
foreign  (Jewish)  blood.  One  has  to  dig  the  facts  out  from 
many  tables.  In  1910  there  were  538,909  people  of  Israelite 
religion  in  the  Reich;  564,379  in  1925;  499,682  in  1933. 
One  can  also  figure  it  out  that  in  1939  there  were  451,451 
of  the  people  called  Jews,  Jewish  mixtures  of  the  first  degree 
and  Jewish  mixtures  of  the  second  degree  in  the  new  Greater 
Germany.  The  Nazi  regime  could  have  taken  credit  for  most 
of  the  decrease  of  Jewish  people  between  1925  and  1933, 

[  154  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

and  certainly  they  could  claim  as  their  own  the  whole  decrease 
of  48,000  between  1933  and  1939.  They  could  have  made 
their  success  more  impressive  by  reminding  the  reader  that 
the  new  Germany  of  1939  included  new  eastern  territory  in 
which  many  Jews  had  lived.  They  could  have  shown  in  a 
more  prominent  place  the  reduction  in  percentage  of  Jewish 
population.  In  1910  and  1925  nearly  one  German  in  a 
hundred  had  been  a  Jew;  in  1939,  only  about  one  in  190. 
The  Yearbook  could  also  have  made  a  better  story  out  of 
emigration.  It  reported  only  those  emigrants  who  went  over- 
seas, and  failed  to  tell  how  many  of  them  were  Jews  rather 
than  people  of  true  German  blood.  This  was  corrected  in 
later  books;  for  the  years  1937,  1938,  and  1939  Jewish 
overseas  emigrants  are  shown  separately  from  others.  Until 
then  the  total  number  of  overseas  emigrants  per  year  had 
remained  between  12,000  and  15,000  since  before  the  Nazi 
time.  Emigration  overseas  was  14,203  in  1937;  22,986  in 
1938;  25,818  in  1939.  One  can  see  in  a  separate  table  that 
7,155  of  the  emigrants  in  1937  were  Jews;  16,561  in  1938, 
and  22,706  in  1939.  The  reader  has  to  figure  out  for  himself 
that  while  in  1937  only  half  the  emigrants  were  Jews,  over 
90%  of  them  were  Jews  in  1939.  In  still  another  table,  the 
reader  could  learn  that  true  Germans  were  actually  coming 
home  from  overseas  in  greater  number  than  they  were  leav- 
ing. In  1939,  only  3,1 12  people  not  of  Jewish  blood  emigrated 
overseas,  while  10,455  came  back  to  live  or  die  under  the 
New  Order.  The  statistician  could  have  put  these  things  all 
together  so  that  a  person  could  follow  with  pride  the  purifying 
of  his  folk.  But  no;  he  reported  it  only  bit  by  bit,  grudgingly. 
He  did  a  little  better  for  Prussia.  Prussia,  in  its  old-fash- 
ioned way,  kept  right  on  reporting  births  and  deaths  by  reli- 
gion, and  persisted  in  considering  that  there  was  an  Israelite 
religion — a  fallacy  that  the  New  State  had  given  up.  If  this 
kind  of  reporting  had  been  done  for  all  of  Germany,  one  could 
have  had  an  ideal  record  of  the  progress  of  the  liquidation  of 


the  Jews.  As  it  is,  we  do  know  from  various  tables  that  there 
were  370,348  Prussian  Israelites  in  1910;  404,446  in  1925; 
361,826  Prussian  Jews  by  faith  in  1933;  and  233,727  Jews, 
Jewish  mixtures  of  the  first  and  second  degrees  in  the  larger 
Prussia  in  1939.  Some  measure  of  success  is  seen  in  the  fact 
that  actually  one  person  in  a  hundred  was  a  Jew  in  1925  in 
Prussia,  but  only  about  half  a  person  in  a  hundred  in  1939. 
But  how  was  the  success  achieved?  Through  encouraging 
emigration  and  the  death  rate?  Or  by  discouraging  the  birth 
rate?  One  has  to  work  hard  to  get  some  idea  of  the  weights 
of  these  various  methods.  By  using  a  lot  of  tables  and  making 
some  assumptions  of  the  kind  that  statisticians  make,  one 
can  estimate  that  about  42,000  Prussian  Jews  emigrated  over- 
seas from  1933  to  the  end  of  August,  1939.  As  to  the  births, 
2,100  children  were  born  to  Jewish  mothers  in  Prussia  in 
1933,  and  about  100  to  other  mothers  but  of  Jewish  fathers. 
The  births  decreased  steadily  until  1939,  when  only  478  were 
born  to  Jewish  mothers  and  less  than  fifty  to  other  mothers 
and  Jewish  fathers.  This  was  a  good  solid  reduction  of  75% 
in  the  number  of  Jews  being  produced  by  birth.  But  that  is 
a  slow  method  of  liquidation.  It  depends  too  much  upon  the 
life-span.  In  the  meantime,  in  spite  of  the  smaller  number  of 
Jews  left  in  Prussia,  the  death  figure  held  up  very  well.  In 
1933,  when  there  were  361,826  Jews  in  Prussia,  5,565  died. 
The  number  of  deaths  remained  above  5,000  a  year  right 
along.  In  1938,  for  instance,  5,632  died. 

In  1939  the  number  of  deaths  weakened  a  little  to  5,182. 
But  since  there  were  then  only  233,727  Jews  and  mixtures 
left  in  Prussia,  the  death  rate  was  more  than  holding  its  own. 
Just  think  of  it:  the  Jewish  population  was  down  128,099 
in  six  years,  a  good  35%,  without  making  a  dent  in  the 
number  of  Jews  who  died  every  year!  A  pretty  good  record, 
all  in  all,  when  one  remembers  that  the  big  campaign  had  not 
really  started  yet.  But  the  statistician  should  have  saved  the 
reader  all  this  trouble.  He  should  have  coordinated  his  statis- 

[  156  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

tics  about  this  program  of  the  New  State,  just  as  for  others. 
I  begin  to  think  he  wasn't  really  gleichgeschaltet  at  all.  It  is 
too  late  for  him  to  make  it  good  now.  The  1941-42  Yearbook 
was  the  eighth  and  last  put  out  by  the  1,000-Year  Reich. 

To  be  sure,  a  new  series  of  Yearbooks  has  been  started. 
The  first  is  out:  Statistical  Yearbook  of  the  German  Federal 
Republic,  1952.  It  looks  a  lot  like  the  old  ones.  The  Foreword, 
signed  by  one  Dr.  Gerhard  Fuerst,  is  short  and  businesslike. 
He  tells  of  the  technical  difficulties  caused  by  loss  of  records 
and  by  changes  in  boundaries.  A  lot  of  the  tables  are  devoted 
to  the  many  refugees  from  the  east.  The  New  State  of  the 
Nazis,  like  the  new  eastern-zone  Democratic  German  Re- 
public, exported  refugees.  The  new  western  Federal  Republic 
of  Germany  receives  refugees. 

The  new  western  statistical  German  has  lost  his  race  and 
got  back  his  religion.  Some  of  them  even  belong  to  "the 
Jewish  religious  community."  Not  many;  just  17,116  as  com- 
pared with  103,293  in  the  same  territory  in  1939.  I  am  glad 
to  say  that  the  new  statistician  doesn't  even  try  to  tell  us  what 
happened  to  the  others.  I  wish  him  well,  and  hope  he  will 
never  have  to  face  the  problems  of  his  immediate  predecessors. 


Professional  and  Career  Problems 

of  Sociology 

Sociology,  being  itself  a  social  phenomenon,  may  be  studied 
as  one.  One  might  try  to  find  out,  for  instance,  what  the 
circumstances  are  under  which  people  want  to  study  human 
society  in  the  way  called  sociological,  those  under  which 
they  are  allowed  to  do  so,  and  those  under  which  they  may 
publish  and  otherwise  use  their  findings.  Our  discussion  of 
the  training  and  professional  activities  assumes  some  freedom 
in  these  matters.  We  have  before  us  questions  of  narrower 
range,  but  nonetheless  of  great  practical  importance;  ques- 
tions about  the  organization  of  sociological  activity.  For  my 
remarks  on  some  of  these  problems  I  take  as  my  cue  the  term 

Profession  has  in  English  a  rather  more  special  meaning 
than  has  the  same  word  in  French  and  its  counterpart,  Beruj, 
in  German.  A  profession  is  an  occupation  which  has  attained 
a  special  standing  among  occupations.  In  the  Western  world, 
and  more  so  in  the  English-speaking  part  of  it,  many  occupa- 
tions have  sought  this  status  in  recent  decades.  At  the  same 
time  a  great  many  new  subdivisions  of  learning  and  scientific 

Transactions  of  the  Second  World  Congress  of  Sociology.  Vol.  I,  1954. 
Pp.  178-85. 


[  158  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

investigation  have  arisen.  The  people  who  have  founded 
and/or  pursue  these  new  branches  have  also  sought  for  their 
subjects  and  for  themselves  a  place  in  the  academic  and 
scientific  world  like  that  of  other,  older  branches,  but  separate 
from  them.  So  numerous  are  these  new  occupations  and 
branches  of  learning  that  one  may  compare  the  steps  they 
take  to  achieve  their  end  of  attaining  professional  status,  and 
thus  arrive  at  a  general  description  of  the  process  of  profes- 
sionalizing an  occupation.  Against  such  a  background  one 
may  see  with  more  detachment  and  perhaps  with  more  pen- 
etrating vision  the  situation  and  problems  of  organized 

The  first  people  to  practise  a  new  line  of  work  come  into 
it  from  other  occupations.  Youngsters  do  not  ordinarily  es- 
tablish new  occupations;  it  is  done  by  more  mature  people 
who  see  a  new  need  or  a  new  opportunity.  Sometimes  they 
slip  over  into  a  new  activity  without  thinking  of  it  as  an 
occupation,  and  are  only  later  aware  of  the  significance  of 
the  change.  In  other  cases  they  are  apostles,  full  of  enthusiasm 
and  charism,  spreading  the  light  of  new  knowledge  and  a 
new  cause. 

At  some  point  these  irregulars,  having  become  aware  of 
themselves  as  a  new  group  with  a  social  identity,  set  about 
setting  the  terms  of  entry  of  their  successors,  the  second  gen- 
eration. Almost  invariably  they  seek  to  straighten  the  career 
line.  They  set  up  devices  to  require  their  successors  to  choose 
the  occupation  earlier,  to  make  them  follow  a  set  course  of 
study  and  training,  to  enter  into  the  work  as  a  sole  and  con- 
tinued way  of  making  a  living,  and  to  do  the  work  under 
institutional  arrangements  defined  and  enforced  by  the  mem- 
bers of  the  occupation.  On  the  social  psychological  side  they 
insist  that  the  individual  accept  identification  with  the  occupa- 
tion as  part  of  his  definition  of  himself,  as  a  significant  and 
persistent  answer  to  the  self-put  question,  "Who  am  I?"  and 
the  question  put  by  others,  "Who  are  you?"  The  true  members 


of  the  aspiring  profession  will  be  thought  to  be  those  who 
enter  it  early,  get  the  conventional  training,  work  at  the  trade, 
identify  themselves  with  its  collective  activities,  and  leave  it 
only  when  they  leave  off  working  altogether.  A  person  who, 
once  in  the  charmed  circle,  leaves  it,  thereby  slights  the  pro- 
fession as  a  whole.  He  makes  light  of  dedication  to  it  and 
calls  down  upon  himself  that  anger  which  reaches  its  extreme 
in  the  attitude  toward  a  priest  who  gives  up  the  cloth.  The 
professional  group  seeks  to  become  an  enduring  thing  in  two 
senses;  first,  in  that  membership  in  it  should  be  enduring  and, 
second,  in  that  the  group  itself  lasts  as  a  known  and  accepted 
organ  of  society. 

In  this  latter  aspect,  the  professional  group  will  claim 
the  mandate  to  select,  train,  initiate  and  discipline  its  own 
members  and  to  define  the  nature  of  the  services  which  they 
will  perform  and  the  terms  on  which  they  will  perform  them. 
If  possible,  they  will  extend  this  mandate  to  the  point  of 
monopoly,  excluding  others  from  performing  their  kind  of 
work,  and  seeking  the  exclusive  prerogative  of  defining  the 
proper  relations  (ethic)  between  the  professionals  and  all 
other  people  concerned  in  their  work.  In  its  full  form,  the 
mandate  will  include  the  function  of  developing  a  philosophy 
for  society  at  large  concerning  the  whole  area  of  thought, 
value  and  action  involved  directly  or  even  remotely  in  their 
work.  How  far  these  mandates  will  be  realized  depends  upon 
many  circumstances,  including  competition  and  conflicts  with 
other  occupations  and  interests. 

The  course  of  a  new  branch  of  learning  is  rather  like  that 
of  a  new  occupation  which,  indeed,  it  tends  to  become.  Part 
of  its  course  will  depend  upon  how  much  it  becomes  involved 
in  the  giving  of  services  to  individual  clients,  or  to  institutions 
or  the  public  as  collective  clients.  If  it  is  closely  related  to  a 
service  it  will  seek  to  follow  the  model  of  a  profession,  as  just 
outlined.  If  it  gives  no  immediate  service  it  may  follow  the 
model  of  older  so-called  pure  sciences.  In  this  case  the  group 

[  160  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

may  not  strive  so  hard  to  close  its  ranks  or  to  seek  a  monopoly 
from  society.  In  America  the  psychologists  are  in  a  conflict 
as  to  whether  psychology  will  be  primarily  a  science  or  pri- 
marily a  profession.  I  do  not  suggest  that  they  have  a  choice. 
The  logic  of  circumstances  will  almost  certainly  require  them 
as  a  group  to  be  both,  although  some  individuals  may  be 
purely  scientific  experimenters  while  others  are  therapists.  I 
suspect  it  is  the  fate  of  sociology  to  suffer  a  similar  chronic 
conflict.  It  may  not  be  so  acute,  as  sociology  is  not  likely  to 
be  used  as  an  instrument  of  individual  therapy  to  such  an 
extent  as  psychology.  But  if  our  problem  of  defining  profes- 
sional relations  with  individual  clients  is  less  acute,  our  rela- 
tions with  institutions,  the  state  and  society  are  likely  to  be 
more  trying.  Although  many  sociologists  would  like  to  con- 
sider their  work  politically  neutral,  it  is  not  considered  so 
by  those  who  make  revolutions  of  right  or  left,  or  by  those 
who  have  special  interests  in  the  things  we  study.  However 
strongly  we  may  emulate  the  model  of  pure  science,  claims 
for  applying  our  knowledge  and  the  fact  that  what  we  learn 
is  never  a  matter  of  social  indifference  will  continue  to  put 
us  into  the  position  of  people  who  give  a  service  (or  do  a 
disservice)  to  our  client,  society.  We  cannot  decide  once  and 
for  all  to  be  completely  a  profession  or  completely  a  science. 
The  problem  is  chronic,  as  are  all  the  basic  problems  with 
which  professional  groups  have  to  deal.  The  basic  parts  of 
any  professional  code  concerns  such  problems,  those  which 
cannot  be  settled  once  and  for  all,  but  for  which — within  the 
limits  of  lasting  principles — different  solutions  have  to  be 
found  according  to  the  circumstances  of  time  and  place.  We 
should,  as  an  international  society,  be  very  chary  of  trying 
to  determine  in  any  detail  solutions  to  apply  to  all  of  the  many 
countries  and  situations  in  which  sociologists  have  to  work. 
In  America,  at  least,  we  have  already  gone  far  upon  the 
road  of  professionalizing  our  occupation  in  one  respect.  We 
are  pushing  the  point  of  crucial  decision  to  enter  upon  socio- 


logical  study  back  to  an  ever  earlier  point  in  the  schooling, 
hence  in  the  life,  of  the  individual.  This  is  justified  by  the 
contention  that,  as  our  methods  develop,  the  prerequisite 
knowledge  and  skills  become  greater.  With  more  to  be  learned, 
if  the  age  of  completing  training  remain  the  same,  the  start- 
ing point  must  be  earlier.  This  argument  is  hard  to  answer. 
One  must,  however,  take  care  to  distinguish  between  conven- 
tional and  strictly  necessary  prerequisite  training.  It  is  very 
easy  to  let  prerequisites  degenerate  into  a  device  to  enforce 
early  choice  and  to  ensure  proper  indoctrination  of  potential 
members  of  an  occupation  or  academic  branch.  Great  is  the 
temptation  to  raise  the  status  of  our  subject  by  proving  that 
it  takes  as  long  to  become  a  sociologist  as  to  become  a  physi- 
cist or  physician.  The  best  proof  is  simple;  one  makes  it  a 
rule.  I  doubt  very  much  whether  we  know  the  best  possible 
prerequisite  training  for  sociologists.  And  since  we  are  still 
a  new  and  exploring  subject  we  probably  should  not  harden 
our  programme  of  training  too  much  lest  we  thereby  also 
harden  our  subject  and  methods. 

Furthermore,  we  do  not  know  what  effect  early  choice 
of  sociology  as  a  field  of  professional  study  will  have  upon 
the  kinds  of  persons  who  will  elect  the  field.  It  may  be  early 
choice  would  draw  in  people  of  some  one  bent,  with  a  tend- 
ency toward  selecting  for  study  only  those  problems  and 
toward  using  only  those  methods  which  fit  the  concept  of 
sociology  crystallized  in  the  conventional  prerequisites.  Stu- 
dents entering  medical  schools  show  a  tendency  to  pick  those 
specialties  which  are  well  known  and  which  are  vaunted  by 
their  teachers  as  embodying  the  true  model  of  medical  prac- 
tice. Choice  of  others,  such  as  psychiatry,  psychosomatic 
medicine,  epidemiology  and  public  health,  often  comes  quite 
late  and  after  some  ripening  experience  in  which  the  young 
man,  in  effect,  unlearns  some  things  and  sets  out  upon  a  new 
and  less  well-charted  course  of  new  learning.  If  we  set  the 
point  of  crucial  decision  to  enter  sociology  too  early,  we 

[  162  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

may  prevent  that  later  change  of  interest  which  has  given 
us  so  many  of  the  best  sociologists.  For  sociology  is  analogous, 
in  this  regard,  not  to  a  profession,  but  to  a  specialty  within 
the  larger  profession  of  studying  human  affairs.  If  we  apply 
rigid  rules  of  entry  to  training,  we  may  limit  too  much  the 
circulation  of  people,  hence  of  minds,  from  one  branch  of 
social  science  to  another.  Since  ours  is  still  one  of  the  less 
known  branches,  we  stand  to  gain  from  second  and  third 
choices.  Furthermore,  it  may  well  be  that  interest  in  scientific 
analysis  of  societies  in  sociological  terms  is  a  mature  one, 
a  by-product  of  other  training  and  experience.  Our  problem 
is  to  develop  devices  for  training  people  to  a  high  level  of 
theoretical  and  technical  competence  without  too  much  re- 
striction of  circulation  from  one  branch  of  social  science 
and  experience  to  another,  and  without  forcing  the  choice 
to  a  too  early  age. 

There  is  a  problem  of  circulation  of  sociologists  later 
in  their  careers  as  well  as  during  their  training.  An  occupation 
in  course  of  becoming  a  profession  (and  a  new  branch  of 
learning  in  course  of  finding  its  place)  will  strive  to  solve 
the  related  problems  of  circulation  and  careers  in  two  dimen- 
sions at  the  same  time.  On  the  one  hand  they  will  seek  to 
set  up  strong  and  clear  boundaries  between  their  occupation 
and  all  others,  and  to  develop  career  opportunities  for  those 
within.  On  the  other  hand,  they  will  complement  this  clear 
bounding  with  an  attempt  to  make  the  profession  more  uni- 
versal, so  that  the  professional  may  carry  on  his  work  in  a 
greater  variety  of  situations;  so  that  his  skill  may  meet  the 
needs  of  any  client  whatsoever  or  so  that  his  methods  of 
investigation  (in  the  case  of  a  science)  may  be  applied  any- 
where and  at  any  time  with  equal  validity.  In  the  purest  case 
the  professional  would  do  work  which  he  alone  can  do,  and 
the  work  would  be  of  a  kind  wanted  everywhere  by  all  men; 
a  maximum  of  specific  bounding  would  be  matched  by  a 
maximum  of  universality.  Armed  with  his  special  qualifica- 


tions,  the  ideal  professional  could  go  from  job  to  job,  client 
to  client,  place  to  place,  and  from  country  to  country;  so 
could  the  pure  scientist.  I  suppose  the  best  living  model  of  this 
is  the  profession  of  medicine.  Physicians  have  come  as  close 
as  one  can  easily  imagine  to  excluding  all  others  from  practise 
Df  their  profession.  They  also  perform  a  service  that  may  be 
conceived  as  universal  in  character  and  as  universally  wanted. 
Actually,  even  in  this  case  the  reality  does  not  completely 
:orrespond  to  the  model.  The  boundaries  between  physical 
llness  and  spiritual  illness  are  not  clear  and  the  definitions 
)f  illness  and  health  vary  from  society  to  society.  Sick  people 
may  want  a  doctor  of  their  own  kind,  and  not  willingly  accept 
strangers.  Other  people  than  physicians  also  share  the  treat- 
ment of  people's  troubles.  Furthermore,  the  doctor's  knowl- 
edge and  skills  are  not  completely  universal.  Some  of  them 
refer  to  the  illnesses  endemic  in  his  own  country.  Finally, 
doctors  in  one  country  or  place  will  not  willingly  allow 
strangers  to  come  among  them  and  compete  for  clients.  So 
that,  even  this  most  specific  and  universal  of  professions  does 
not  achieve  full  monopoly  as  against  other  occupations  and 
does  not  allow  completely  free  circulation  of  professionals 
from  place  to  place  and  situation  to  situation.  The  case  of 
medicine  shows  that  even  in  the  extreme  case  the  solutions 
are  relative,  not  absolute.  How  sharply  should  and  can  sociol- 
ogists in  fact  be  set  off  as  a  peculiar  group  with  specific  careers 
reserved  to  them  alone?  How  universal  can  their  knowledge 
and  skills  of  investigation  be  made?  Consequently,  in  how 
large  an  area  may  they  move  around  freely  in  course  of  their 
careers?  I  will  discuss  the  last  question  first,  and  then  return 
to  the  other  one. 

Of  recent  years  there  has  been  a  healthy  moving  around 
of  sociologists.  We  have  met  one  another,  held  such  meetings 
as  this,  worked  in  one  another's  universities  and  institutes. 
In  some  countries  we  have  profited  from  the  forced  migration 
of  sociologists  from  other  countries.  Perhaps  we  are  closer 

[  164  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

to  developing  a  universal  conception  of  sociological  study 
than  ever  before.  On  the  other  hand  it  is  likely  that  most 
sociological  careers  will  be  confined  to  one  country.  Some 
sociologists  will  circulate  in  two  or  three  closely  related 
countries.  A  very  few  will  move  about  in  a  really  wide  space. 
More  will  visit  other  countries  for  varying  lengths  of  time. 
While  the  theoretical  systems  and  the  basic  techniques  for 
studying  society  should  be  universal,  most  sociologists  get 
familiar  with  the  historic  conditions  of  one  or  two  countries, 
with  certain  specific  problems  or  institutions  and  with  certain 
social  changes  in  the  setting  of  their  own  country  or  region. 
The  methods  may  be  universal;  the  data  to  which  they  are 
applied  are  historical. 

In  one  sense  a  sociologist — as  Robert  E.  Park  used  to 
say — tells  the  news,  although  in  a  more  exact  way  and  also 
in  a  more  general  and  abstract  way  than  do  newspapers.  It 
is  not  likely  that  we  will  ever  be  free  of  the  demand  that  we 
show  special  interest  in  and  knowledge  of  the  conditions  and 
changes  in  the  world  around  us.  For  one  thing  observation 
of  the  human  data  on  which  we  base  our  theoretical  analysis 
depends  generally  on  fairly  intimate  contact  with  persons 
and  institutions.  While  playing  the  role  of  the  timeless  and 
disinterested  outsider  is  an  important  item  in  the  repertoire 
of  the  social  scientist,  it  is  not  the  whole  of  it.  Our  role 
requires  also  intense  curiosity  and  personal  concern  about  the 
people  and  problems  studied.  I  predict  that  for  these  reasons, 
and  for  the  more  embarrassing  one  that  even  sociologists 
may  be  slightly  ethnocentric  and  perhaps  even  concerned 
about  foreign  competition,  most  sociological  careers  will  be 
played  out  within  national  boundaries. 

Then  comes  the  question  of  the  possibility  of  having 
careers  within  countries,  or  regions  of  two  or  more  countries 
which  make  up  effective  circulating  areas.  The  possibilities 
obviously  depend  both  upon  the  institutional  organization  of 
academic  and  scientific  activities  within  a  given  country  and 


upon  the  size  of  the  area.  America,  north  of  the  Mexican 
border,  forms  a  vast  area  with  essentially  the  same  institu- 
tional forms  and  with  a  great  demand  for  people  who  go  by 
the  name  of  sociologist.  The  career  possibilities  are  great. 
A  young  man  may  be  fairly  sure  that  he  may  choose  from 
among  a  number  of  open  places  when  he  finishes  his  training, 
and  that  he  may  from  there  on  move  about  from  position  to 
position  to  suit  his  talents  and  his  special  interests.  If  he  does 
not  succeed  in  getting  a  position  where  he  may  do  specialized 
research,  or  if  he  does  not  wish  to  do  so  he  can  be  ome  one 
of  the  army  of  college  teachers.  College  teaching  absorbs 
many  who  are  called,  but  not  quite  chosen.  The  number  of 
positions  in  better  known  universities,  in  research  organiza- 
tions and  in  agencies  which  want  people  who  can  apply 
sociological  knowledge  are  themselves  numerous  enough  so 
that  no  competently  trained  and  talented  sociologist  need 
want  for  a  choice  of  jobs.  In  these  circumstances  there  is 
ample  opportunity  for  circulating  careers  within  a  fairly 
closely  defined  profession  of  sociologists  (although  it  is  still 
questionable  how  closely  the  professional  group  should  be 

Many  of  our  ideas  concerning  the  professionalizing  of  an 
academic  subject  rest  upon  the  assumption  of  such  a  large 
market.  But  the  academic  market  for  all  subjects  is  small  in 
many  countries  and  especially  so  for  a  new  subject  such  as 
sociology.  Generally  speaking,  there  is  no  great  absorbing 
institution  for  sociologists  in  other  countries  as  in  the  United 
States  and  Canada.  The  sociologist  cannot  be  absorbed  by 
the  European  Gymnasium  or  Lycee  as  easily  as  by  the  Ameri- 
can college.  One  of  the  problems  of  a  new  and  fairly  special- 
ized subject  in  a  small  country  is  precisely  the  possibility  of 
absorbing  those  who  study  the  subject,  but  who  do  not  im- 
mediately— if  ever — enter  upon  the  main  career  line  in 
which  the  training  would  be  used.  In  French  Canada,  for 
instance,  there  are  three  universities.   Sociology  is  new  in 

[  166  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

them.  Once  the  few  positions  are  filled  there  will  not  be 
places  for  an  annual  crop  of  talented  young  men  trained  as 
specialists  in  sociology.  But  without  an  annual  crop  of  talented 
young  people  the  subject  itself  languishes.  Without  a  position 
in  which  he  can  use  his  knowledge  and  skill  the  young  man 
languishes;  or  he  finds  another  kind  of  place,  and  his  skill 
languishes.  The  problem  might  be  solved  by  increasing  the 
area  in  which  the  individual  may  circulate  in  course  of  his 
career.  We  have  already  raised  that  question.  It  might  also 
be  solved  by  combining  sociology  with  other  activities,  which 
means  some  departure  from  the  ideal  of  complete  professional 
specialization.  For  the  model  of  complete  specialization  im- 
plies a  large  market.  Even  in  the  large  market,  it  is  not 
completely  realized  in  many  occupations.  Nor  is  it  at  all 
certain  that  it  is  the  most  efficient  model  for  all  kinds  of 
activities.  Research  has  never  been  fully  separated  from 
teaching  in  most  academic  subjects;  in  spite  of  all  that  has 
been  said  there  is  not  the  slightest  evidence  that  it  would  be 
wise  to  do  so.  Few  professions  have  ever  achieved  such 
specialization  that  the  practitioner  carries  on  only  one  activity. 
The  lawyer  writes  a  brief,  but  he  also  pleads  and  arbitrates. 
Priests  preach,  hear  confessions  and  administer  the  affairs 
of  the  Church.  Physicians  diagnose,  treat,  and  investigate. 
The  historic  connection  of  teaching  and  research  may  be 
weakened  in  some  fields,  and  certainly  the  best  balance  be- 
tween them  is  not  the  same  in  all.  But  even  where  research 
stands  alone  as  a  professional  activity,  new  people  must  be 
taught  to  carry  it  on.  The  connection  is  inescapable,  although 
the  weighting  of  the  two  activities  in  a  given  man's  career 
may  vary.  There  can  also  be  other  connections;  as  for  in- 
stance, combinations  of  sociological  research  with  practical 
activities  of  various  kinds.  We  who  are  in  the  larger  countries 
should  be  cautious  in  promoting  concepts  of  professional 
specialization  which  do  not  suit  conditions  in  other  countries. 
(I  think  I  can  assume  that  we  are  all  more  interested  in  the 


advancement  of  sociological  knowledge  than  in  the  advance- 
ment of  a  profession  of  sociology.) 

Specialization  and  the  closed  profession  should  be  instru- 
ments, not  ends  in  themselves.  It  may  well  be  that  sociology 
will  have  to  be  combined  with  other  activities  in  many 
countries  if  there  is  to  be  that  amount  of  circulation  which 
will  keep  new  recruits  coming  into  it,  and  which  will  make 
for  a  large  enough  group  of  collaborators  to  stimulate  one 
another  and  to  get  the  work  of  sociological  analysis  of  the 
life  of  the  country  done. 

The  combination  of  sociology  with  other  things  that  comes 
most  easily  to  mind  is  that  with  other  branches  of  social 
science  and  with  the  various  kinds  of  social  practice.  And 
here  we  are  back  again  with  our  problem  of  setting  the 
boundaries  of  sociology,  or  rather,  of  the  group  of  people 
called  sociologists.  The  questions  for  solution  are  still  both 
theoretical  and  practical.  We  may  ask  what  combinations  of 
sociology  with  other  social  or  other  sciences  are  best  for  the 
advancement  of  knowledge  about  man  and  society.  This 
includes  the  basic  question  about  what  the  effective  divisions 
of  social  science  will  be  in  the  future;  we  all  know  that  the 
divisions  of  physical  and  biological  science  are  not  what  they 
once  were.  The  practical  question — itself  not  free  of  theoreti- 
cal aspects — is  that  of  the  best  institutional  organisation, 
including  that  of  the  best  degree  of  separation  of  the  socio- 
logical career  from  others.  All  will  probably  agree  that  a 
subject  will  not  advance  well  unless  there  are  nuclei  of  people 
in  a  position  to  give  their  undivided  attention  to  it,  nor  will 
it  flourish  without  that  morale  which  comes  of  being  a  member 
of  a  group  with  a  strong  sense  of  colleagueship  and  a  clear 
sense  of  common  task.  The  developing  and  strengthening  of 
such  nuclei  is  certainly  a  major  problem  for  sociologists  in 
many  countries.  Their  efforts  to  create  more  chairs  of  sociol- 
ogy, and  to  get  more  general  recognition  of  the  subject  and 
more  money  for  teaching  and  research  will  certainly  be  sup- 

[  168  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

ported  with  enthusiasm  by  all  of  us.  But  I  think  it  likely  that 
these  nuclei  will  function  more  effectively  if  the  boundaries 
between  us  and  related  social  sciences  are  not  drawn  too 
closely.  Of  course  it  is  sometimes  true  that  those  closest  to 
us  are  our  bitterest  opponents;  nor  am  I  unaware  of  the  fact 
that  economists  and  historians  have  sometimes  effectively 
hindered  the  development  of  sociology  by  teaching  a  little 
of  it  themselves  and  pretending  that  no  more  is  necessary 
(just  as  in  the  U.  S.  a  university  will  hire  one  Negro  professor 
to  prove  that  it  doesn't  discriminate  against  Negroes).  These 
dangers,  like  others,  are  chronic.  I  still  believe  that  the  best 
formula  for  sociology  is  to  develop  strong  working  nuclei 
of  people,  without  drawing  the  boundaries  too  tightly  be- 
tween ourselves  and  our  colleagues  in  other  branches  of  social 
science  and  social  practice.  Circulation  from  one  branch  to 
another  should  be  easy,  so  far  as  institutional  and  professional 
barriers  are  concerned;  difficult  in  the  sense  that  we  set  high 
standards  of  competence  for  ourselves,  our  collaborators  and 
our  apprentices.  Sociology  began  as  the  maverick  of  the 
social  sciences.  Bastard  child  of  philosophy,  her  fatherhood 
sometimes  claimed,  sometimes  rejected  by  history,  sibling  or 
cousin  of  economics,  political  science,  anthropology  and 
psychology,  let  her  stand  on  the  privilege  of  her  unique  par- 
entage by  not  following  too  closely  the  model  of  an  exclusive 


Two  Worlds: 
Social  Science  and  the  Cosmos 

First  Scene 


Little  Boy,  with  a  full,  cherubic,  but  impassive  face;  in 
fact,  a  dead  pan.  Speaks  in  a  persistent  monotone,  dead  serious. 
Often  breaks  in  when  papa  speaks,  but  without  any  sense  of  inter- 
rupting. He  is  just  talking  on  in  his  God-driven  way.  No  facial 
reaction;  no  gestures.  In  fact,  I  think  he  may  be  a  professor 
dressed  up  as  a  little  boy. 

Papa,  a  big,  important  looking  papa. 

Papa  discovered  in  his  library,  or  his  office;  take  your  pick. 
He  sits  at  a  desk  cluttered  with  papers.  He  is  a  busy  man.  He 
works  at  home,  drawing  up  papers  for  new  companies  and  founda- 
tions and  things.  Why  is  his  desk  cluttered,  and  he  an  important 
man?  His  wife  won't  let  him  bring  his  secretary  home,  that's  why. 

Little  Boy  stands  by  desk  with  a  toy  engine  in  his  hand.] 

Little  Boy:  Papa,  buy  me  a  new  train. 

Papa:  Why  son,  surely  the  train  Santa  Claus  brought  you 
on  Christmas  is  still  new  and  perfectly  good.  (Reader,  You're 
wrong.  The  little  boy  does  not  look  pityingly  at  papa  for  his 


[  170  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

faith  in  Santa  Claus.  This  is  no  ordinary  smart-alec  modern 

Why,  when  I  was  a  little  boy  I  thought  I  was  lucky.  .  .  . 

Boy:   (Interrupting)  I  need  a  new  train. 

Papa:  Now  why  on  earth  do  you  need  a  new  train? 

Boy:  I  am  going  to  make  some  scientific  experiments. 

Papa:  (Getting  a  proud  papa  glint  in  his  eye)  Why,  that's 
wonderful.  Scientific  experiments!  (Dreamy-eyed)  Scientific 
experiments!  I  always  wanted  to  be  a  scientist — busting  atoms, 
dissolving  moons,  making  star  dust,  crumbling  earth.  (Haul- 
ing himself  together)  But  money,  money!  Making  money  got 
me,  and  deprived  me  of  my  youth.  Well,  well,  son,  you  can 
rise  on  the  back  of  your  poor  father.  But,  seriously  now,  since 
you  are  interested  in  electricity,  isn't  there  other  equipment 
better  than  a  train  for  making  experiments? 

Boy:  I  am  not  interested  in  electricity.  I  need  a  train. 

Papa:  (Disappointed)  But  you  said  you  wanted  to  make 
experiments.  Now  there  isn't  any  other  kind  of  train  except 
electric.  Of  course,  in  my  day  there  were  those  old-fashioned 
key- winders.  .  .  . 

Boy:  (Cutting  in,  but  dead  pan  and  deliberate)  Papa, 
there  are  lots  of  kinds  of  trains.  Steam,  diesel,  and  soon  there 
will  be  jet  and  atomic-powered  locomotion. 

Papa:  Oh,  yes,  son,  of  course,  of  course,  I  know  that, 
but  we  are  talking  about  toy  trains.  Now.  .  .  . 

Boy:  I  am  not  talking  about  toy  trains. 

Papa:  Look  here,  son,  this  has  gone  far  enough.  Go  back 
to  your  play  room  and  let  me  alone.  I  have  work  to  do. 

Boy:  But,  papa,  I  have  to  make  some  experiments  to  find 
out  how  fast  you  can  run  a  train  without  it  flying  to  pieces.  I 
need  a  train  that  runs  from  here  to  St.  Louis  with  lots  of 
people  in  it.  I  will  probably  need  another  one  next  week,  too. 

(Papa  nearly  faints,  but  takes  a  second  look  at  the  dead 
pan  of  his  wonder  boy  and,  hypnotized,  picks  up  the  phone. ) 

Papa:  (into  phone)  Miss  Indispensable?  Get  Dick  Smith, 

POSTSCRIPT  [  171  ] 

President  of  the  Smoky  Valley  Railroad  on  the  phone.  Yes, 
I  know  it  is  after  dinner  in  the  evening.  But,  say,  (taking  an- 
other look  at  the  boy),  don't  bother  about  the  phone;  go  to 
his  home  and  fetch  him  over  here  right  away. 

(Fast  Curtain) 

Second  Scene 


Same  boy,  dressed  up  as  a  modern  professor.  Good  haircut, 
shoes  shined  and  everything.  What  color  of  suit  and  tie?  You 
don't  catch  me  there;  he  is  so  well  dressed  you  wouldn't  be  able 
to  tell.  You  wouldn't  notice,  even.  He  married  his  secretary. 

Same  papa,  now  dressed  up  as  Foundation  official.  Both  are 
longer  winded  than  before. 

Scene  is  the  same,  too,  except  for  the  portrait  of  an  old  party 
on  the  wall.  A  caption  says  this  old  party  is  Sylvester  MakestufI, 
Foundryman  and  Founder. 

The  desk  is  all  clear  except  for  one  neatly  bound  manuscript 
all  tied  up  with  a  ribbon. 

Both  papa  and  boy — I  mean,  professor — discovered  as  before. 
Since  he  is  dressed  up  as  a  professor,  the  boy  is  seated  on  a 
chair  across  the  desk  from  the  man.  He  has  no  toy  engine  in  his 
hand;  or  has  he?  Suppose  I  just  go  on  calling  them  Papa  and  Boy.] 

Papa:  Now  would  you  kindly  explain  to  me  a  little  further 
the  nature  of  the  experiments  you  would  like  to  make  and 
give  me  an  estimate  of  what  they  would  cost.  You  see,  reading 
tires  me  (lifts  ribboned  manuscript  and  drops  it,  showing 
that  ribbon  has  not  been  untied.  Ah,  this  is  the  precious  re- 

[  172  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

search  proposal  and  request  for  money  that  the  Boy's — /  mean 
Professor 's — secretary  sat  up  nights  typing  all  last  month.)  In 
fact,  my  doctor  has  warned  me  against  reading  in  any  way, 
shape  or  form.  And  as  for  figures.  .  .  .  After  all,  we  do  have 
television  these  days,  don't  we?  By  the  way,  would  you  like 
to  see  my  set?  {Warming  to  the  subject)  It's  a  Superduper 
Nth  Power.  I  was  just  watching  Gorgeous  Georgia  when  you 
came  in.  That's  why  I  kept  you  waiting.  Ha,  Ha,  Ha.  Hope 
you  didn't  mind.  I  bet  you  wonder  where  the  set  is.  Well,  it's 
behind  that  third  panel  on  the  opposite  wall.  I  just  push  a 
button  and  there  it  is.  Don't  even  have  to  turn  my  head.  You 
would  never  have  guessed  it  was  there,  would  you,  now?  Ha, 
ha,  ha.  You  see,  whoever  sits  where  you  are  has  his  back  to 
it  and  doesn't.  .  .  . 

Boy:  I  will  need  about  half  a  billion  to  start. 

Papa:  {Awakened  from  his  TV  reverie  to  the  smooth  and 
shining  nightmare  in  front  of  him)  Half  a  billion  to  start? 
Huh,  what's  that?  Oh  yes,  where  were  we?  {Collecting  him- 
self and  assuming  an  impassive  expression  himself)  Now  what 
university  did  you  say  you  were  from?  Ha,  ha,  ha,  silly  ques- 
tion, isn't  it?  What  difference  does  it  make?  But  I  have  to 
ask,  you  know.  The  Board  members  insist  on  it.  They  like 
to  play  games  to  keep  them  awake  at  meetings — sticking  pins 
in  a  map  to  show  where  their  money  goes!  Ha,  ha — not  that 
it's  really  their  money,  you  know,  ha,  ha,  ha,  but  they  like  to 
make  believe.  .  .  . 

Boy:  {Interrupting)  Of  course,  the  half  billion  is  only  a 
starter.  It  won't  last  long.  I  will  use  a  quarter  billion  to  de- 
velop our  experimental  designs  and  to  build  equipment  for 
trial  runs.  Then  a  second  quarter  billion  will  go  for  retooling 
our  psychotrone  and  Polterkammer  for  the  first  real  experi- 
ments on  how  to  run  the  world. 

Papa:  {Whose  hand  was  restlessly  feeling  around  for  his 
television  button,  but  suddenly  was  arrested  by  the  look  in 

POSTSCRIPT  [  173  ] 

the  boy's  eyes)  Half  a  billion  just  for  the  trial  experiments? 
You  did  say  half  a  billion,  didn't  you?  Never  mind  what  uni- 
versity you  came  from.  I'm  glad  you  came.  It  gets  so  dull 
here  in  the  office  most  days.  Between  you  and  me  this  job 
bores  me  stiff.  Everybody  so  serious.  Some  nights  my  wife 
has  to  massage  my  face  for  two  hours  before  she  gets  it 
loosened  up  enough  so  she  can  tell  by  my  expression  whether 
I  am  lying  or  not  when  I  say  I  had  to  stay  late  in  the  office. 
Sometimes  she  has  to  smack  my  face  to  break  the  crust  on 
it.  You  know,  sitting  here  all  day  listening  to  all  that  stuff 
about  research  to  save  the  world  without  looking  either  in- 
terested or  uninterested.  But  you're  different.  You're  fun.  Go 
on,  tell  me  more  about  the  ten  billions — it  was  ten  billions, 
wasn't  it?  And  about  how  you  are  going  to  run  the  world! 

Boy:  You  wouldn't  understand  the  experiment,  really.  It 
is  scientific.  Of  course,  we  will  put  it  into  simple  graphic 
form  for  television  later  on.  You  can  see  it  then.  I  aim  to 
develop  a  set  of  encyclopedic  tables  for  human  behavior;  you 
know — like  the  periodic  tables  in  chemistry.  We're  just  a  new 
science,  but  we  are  ready  for  that  phase  now.  We're  about 
twenty  years  behind  nuclear  physics,  but  that  is  good.  They 
need  that  much  start  so  as  to  be  useful  to  us  five  years  from 
now.  In  fact,  we  will  probably  have  to  show  them  how  to 
train  people  so  they  can  develop  their  science  fast  enough 
to  keep  up  with  us. 

Papa:  But  what  do  you  need  now? 

Boy:  Now?  In  simple  language  for  you  and  your  Board, 
we  need  a  Supreme  Court  to  experiment  with.  It  will  be  ex- 
pensive; a  building  like  the  present  one,  but  with  lots  of 
secret  electronic  equipment,  gasonometers,  lietesters,  forget- 
ometers,  boastographs,  pomposodetectors,  etc.  We'll  use  much 
more  eavesdropping  equipment  than  the  FBI.  Oh,  yes,  we  will 
need  some  Judges,  too — they  come  high  sometimes. 

Papa:  Oh,  I  see,  you  want  to  hire  some  students  to  act 

[  174  ]  Men  and  Their  Work 

just  like  Supreme  Court  Judges.  And  then  you  would  offer 
them  money  and  find  out  their  price.  You  would  use  students 
instead  of  rats!  Ha,  ha,  ha. 

Boy:  No,  we  will  use  real  Supreme  Court  Judges.  There 
is  a  great  deal  to  be  learned  about  rat  behavior  in  that  way. 
We  thought  of  using  deans,  but  we  couldn't  get  a  good 
control  group  of  rats — I  mean,  humans  just  like  deans  in  every 
way  except  that  they  would  not  be  deans.  The  demand  for 
deans  is  too  great.  But  it  is  easy  to  match  Supreme  Court 
Judges;  lots  more  candidates  than  places.  You  can  get  a  con- 
trol group  easy  if  you  have  the  money.  So  you  can  tell  whether 
they're  like  that  anyway,  or  whether  it  is  because  they  are 

Papa:  So  you  would  set  up  a  fake — I  mean,  an  experi- 
mental Supreme  Court  and  pretend  to  have  cases  tried,  and 
you  would  be  behind  the  wall  pushing  buttons  and  turning 
lights  on  and  off  to  confuse  the  judges.  How  very  original! 
But  still,  20  billion  is  a  lot  of  money,  even  for  a  fake  court. 

Boy:  I  mean  a  real  Supreme  Court — The  Supreme  Court, 
with  real  cases.  We  could  learn  a  lot  about  the  legal  mind 
that  way.  We  always  start  with  the  simplest  case  in  science. 
Then  we  extrapolate  our  knowledge  to  more  complicated 

Papa:  You  mean  the  real  Court  with  real  Judges  and  real 
cases  sent  up  by  real  people? 

Boy:  (Remember  he  is  insistently  impassive)  That  would 
be  just  the  first  experiment.  Of  course,  eventually  we  will  have 
to  depend  upon  astronomy. 

Papa:  Astronomy?  Is  that  a  behavioral  science  now,  too? 

Boy:  Well,  if  we  are  to  learn  how  to  run  this  world  we 
need  another  identical  with  it  to  experiment  on.  Maybe  two, 
or  three,  in  case  we  blow  up  one  or  two.  According  to  the 
laws  of  chance,  there  must  be  several  planets  in  the  universe 
just  like  Earth  down  to  the  last  rat.  If  the  astronomers  would 
only  realize  how  little  time  there  is  and  get  out  and  find  at 

POSTSCRIPT  [  175  ] 

least  one  of  those  twins  of  Earth,  we  could  learn  how  to  run 
a  world.  Hard  to  work  fast  with  only  one  guinea  pig. 

Papa:  (Hypnotized  again.  Reaches  for  a  huge  check 
book  and  pen)  Well,  well,  this  has  been  a  great  day.  My 
face  is  as  soft  and  relaxed  as  a  baby's.  Hope  my  wife  won't 
ask  me  where  I  was  last  night.  Astronomic,  I  call  it.  Positively 
astronomic.  By  the  way,  son,  which  world  are  you  going  to 
experiment  on,  Earth  or  that  other  one  the  astronomers  are 
going  to  find  for  you?  I  have  to  move  in  the  spring. 



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Johnson,  James  Weldon.  Along  this  Way.  New  York,  1933. 

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Klein,  Melanie.  "The  Role  of  the  School  in  the  Libidinal  Devel- 
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analysis, Vol.  V  (July,  1924),  pp.  312-31. 

Lasswell,  H.  D.  World  Politics  and  Personal  Insecurity.  New 
York,  1935. 

Locke,  John.  Letters  concerning  Toleration.  London,  1759. 

Linton,  Ralph.  The  Study  of  Man.  New  York,  1936. 

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(July,  1927),  pp.  28-42. 

Malinowski,  B.  Argonauts  of  the  Western  Pacific.  London,  1922. 

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1939),  pp.  325-34. 

Mayo,  Elton  W.  The  Human  Problems  of  an  Industrial  Civiliza- 
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Park,  Robert  E.  "Human  Migration  and  the  Marginal  Man,"  The 
American  Journal  of  Sociology,  Vol.  XXXIII  (May,  1928), 
pp.  881-93.  Also  in  his  Race  and  Culture.  Glencoe,  1950. 

Piaget,  J.  The  Moral  Judgment  of  the  Child.  London,  1932. 

Redfield,  R.  Chan  Kom,  a  Maya  Village.  Washington,  1934. 

Riesman,  David.  "Toward  an  Anthropological  Science  of  Law 
and  the  Legal  Profession,"  The  American  Journal  of  Sociol- 
ogy, Vol.  LVII  (September,  1951),  pp.  121-35. 

Sigerist,  Henry  E.  A  History  of  Medicine.  Vol.  I.  Primitive  and 
Archaic  Medicine.  New  York,  1951. 

Smith,  Adam.  The  Wealth  of  Nations. 

Sombart,  Werner.  Das  Wirtschaftsleben  im  Zeitalter  des  Hoch- 
kapitalismus.  Munich,  1927. 

Sorokin,  P.  Social  Mobility.  New  York,  1927. 

Sumner,  W.  G.  The  Folkways.  Boston,  1906. 

.  War  and  Other  Essays.  New  Haven,  1911. 

Tarbell,  Ida  M.  The  Life  of  Elbert  H.  Gary.  New  York,  1925. 

Thomas,  W.  I.  and  Znaniecki,  F.  The  Polish  Peasant  in  Europe 
and  America.  New  York,  1927. 

Veblen,  T.  The  Higher  Learning  in  America.  New  York,  1918. 

Webb,  S.  and  B.  English  Local  Government;  the  Parish  and  the 
County.  London,  1900. 

.  A  History  of  Trade  Unionism,  rev.  ed.  London,  1920. 

Weber,  Max.  Gesammelte  politische  Schriften.  Munich,  1921. 

.  Gesammelte  Aufsaetze  zur  Soziologie  und  Sozialpolitik. 

Tuebingen,  1924. 

White,  Bouck.  the  Book  of  Daniel  Drew.  New  York,  1910. 

Whyte,  William  F.  "Pity  the  Poor  Personnel  Man,"  Advanced 
Management   (October-December,   1944),  pp.    154-58. 

Williams,  Josephine  J.  "Patients  and  Prejudice,"  The  American 
Journal  of  Sociology,  Vol.  LI  (January,  1946),  pp.  283-87. 



amateur,  54,  133,  134,  140 
ambition,  42,  62-63,  67 
attitude,  26,  31-33 

and  the  division  of  labor,  35,  36, 

38,  41,  44,  55 
of  professional  objectivity,  82-84, 
91,  92,  94,  112,  123 

Barrett,  E.  Boyd,  59,  60 
Becker,  Howard  S.,  54,  93 
Bettelheim,  Bruno,  94,  96 
Bladen,  V.  W.,  101 
Burgess,  Ernest  W.,  9,  24 

calendar,  12,  18-20,  22 
Canada,  36,  37 

French,  14,   15,  106 
Canadian,  French,  60,  106,  110 
career,  8,  9,  11,  56 
and  office,  62-67,  76,  107,  108,  114 
medical,  120,  121,  125 
lines    and   choices,    127-29,    136, 

problems  of  sociologists,  162-67 
Carr-Saunders,  A.  M.,  132 
caste,  26,  27 

Catholic   (Roman),  33,  60,  66,  78, 
80,  103,  104,  106,  115 
in  Statistical  Yearbook  of  the  Ger- 
man Reich,  150-52 
charism,  52,  91,  158 
Chicago,  38,  44,  51 
Chicago  Real  Estate  Board,  23,  39, 

clergy,   27,   29-34,   61,   84,   85,   see 
also  priest 

client,  30,  34,  39,  40,  54,  71,  75,  82, 
88,  96,  108,  113,  131,  132 
relations   with    professional,    139, 
141,  142,  160,   162,  163 
code,  35,  39,  40,  45,  46,   106,   108, 

109,  140,  142,  160 
colleague,  9,  25,  33,  35,  38,  47,  61, 
66,  69,  79,  82 
relationships  and  mistakes,  90-98 
as   definers   of  professional   type, 

and  status,  109-13,  115 
role    in   medical   education,    121, 
122,    125,    126,    129,    131,    134 
control  of  profession,  139-42,  167, 
commitment,  21,  22,  60,  134-36,  145 
competition,  31,  34,  66,  72,  159 
competitor,  25,  30,  38,  40,  107,  108 
conversion,  20,  32,  33,  44 
Cooley,  Charles  H.,  57 
cult,  96,  97,  100 

culture,  12,   13,  15,  23,  25,  27,  35, 
36,  83,  109 
medical,  116-20,  130 
custom,  37,  42,  57 
cycle,  11-21 

"dirty  work,"  49-52,  70-72,  122,  137 
discipline,  32,  61,  63 
division  of  labor,  9,  23-37 

and  social  role,  68-81,  91,  98 
Dix,  Dom  Gregory,  18 
doctrine,  18,  60 
Donovan,  Frances,  25 
Drew,  Daniel,  38 



Durkheim,  Emile,  25,  26,  30,  86 

ecology,  25,  26,  37 

education,  medical,  118-28,  see  also 


and  routine,  54,  55,  84,  88,   104, 
ethics,  33,  39,  40,  45,  46,  159 
etiquette,  16,  36,  38,  41,  60 

family,  12 

and  the  division  of  labor,  28-32, 
37,  63,  75,  105 
Faris,  Ellsworth,  9,  26 
Field,  Mark  G.,  146 
frontier,  28,  36,  37 

Gennep,  Arnold  van,   13 
Germany,    47,    see    also    Statistical 

Yearbook  of  the  German  Reich 
Glaubensjuden,    148,    151,   see   also 

Israelites,  Jews 
Gold,  Ray,  51,  91 
Gosse,  Edmund,  19,  20 

Philip  Henry,  19 

Hall,  Oswald,  107 
Henderson,  L.  J.,  75 
"home  guard,"  129,  130,  136 
hospital,  16,  52,  69,  70,  72,  76,  89, 

Negro,  113-15,  120 

and  the  physician's  career,  128-35 
Hughes,  Helen  MacGill,  83 

identity,  7,  8,  22,  23,  43,  45,    120, 

130,   158 
institution,  12 

and    personal   vicissitudes,    14-19, 
27,   33 

and  office,  56,  57,  60,  61 

career  and  — ,  65-67 

and  division  of  labor,  72,  75-77, 

and  physician's  career,  129-30 

evolving  in  movement  to  profes- 
sionalize, 131-33,  136,  142,  159, 
160,  164,   165 
Israelites,     150-55,    see    also    Jews, 


itinerant,  31,  129,  136 

janitor,  49,  50-54 

Jews,   148,   151-56,  see  also  Glaub- 
ensjaden, Israelites 
Johnson,  James  Weldon,  20 
Joshi,  G.  N.,  36 

Lasswell,  Harold  D.,  64 

law,  57,  70,  75 

lawyer,  71,  75,  80,  91,  95,  96,  112, 

113,  131,  132,  166 
librarian,  133,  135,  137,  142 
licence,  7 

and    mandate,    78-87,    103,    104, 

119,  135,  140,   141,   145 
life-cycle,  11,  13,  14,  15,  18 
Linton,  Ralph,  57 
Locke,  John,  19 

Malinowski,  B.,  57,  58 
mandate,  7,  76 

and  licence,  78-87,  83,  85,  86,  99, 

Mannheim,  Karl,  67 
"marginal  man,"  103,  109,  110,  113, 

Marshall,  T.  H.,  132 
Mayo,  Elton,  47 
McKenzie,  R.  D.,  37 
Mead,  Margaret,  16 
medical,    profession    or    world,    see 

medicine,  34,  43,  54,  66 

and  division  of  labor,  70,  71-73, 

75,  79,  89,  94 
as  prototype   of  profession,    116, 

117,  129,  130,  131 
minister,  see  clergy 
mission,  32-34,  39,  61,  108,  122 
mistakes,  46,  47,  60 

professional.  88-101,   141 
mobility,  30,  31,  34,  40,  44,  45,  52, 

63,  67,  73,  103,  109,  110,  136, 

morale,  136,  167 
mores,  55,  57,  60,  113 

sectarian,  18,  19 

social,  7,  19,  44,  85,  99,  100,  133, 




revolutionary,  18 
musician,  49,  53,  54,  93 

National  Socialists  (German),   146- 

Nazis,  see  National  Socialists 
Negro,  20,  21,  45,   104,   105 

dilemma  of,  111-14 
neutrality,  48,  85 

physician's,  145,  146,  160 
North,  Cecil,  27,  28,  29 

and  division  of  labor,  72-75,  78, 
97,  126,  133,  135,  137 


role  and,  56-63 

career  and,  65-67,  70 
organization,  social,  26-28 
organ,  social,  25,  26 

Park,  Robt.  Ezra,  9,  103,  164 
patient,  53,  69,  74,  75 

— 's  choice  of  physician-   104-07, 


role  of  —  in  physician's  career, 
124-26,    131 
person,  56,  57 
personality,  9 

and  division  of  labor,  23,  25,  27, 
31-33,  35-37,  41,  57,  62,  70 
personnel  man,  110,  111,  114 
philanthropy,  65,  66 
physician,  9,  15,  35,  52 

division    of   labor   among,    71-75 
— 's  licence,  78-83 
— 's  mistakes,  88,  91,  97 
patient's   choice   of,    103-05,    107 
— 's  status,  111-14 
education   of,    118-30,    131,    135, 
141,  143,  145,  163,  166 
Piaget,  J.,  59 
policy,  35,  39,  136 
prerogative,  26-28,   32,  41,  68,  73, 

83,  95,  121,  159 

and  personality,  42-46,  48,  49,  52, 

58,  67 
and  division  of  labor,  70,  72,  73, 
122,  132,  134,  136 
priest,  29,  32,  33,  55,  60 

— 's  licence,  80,  81,  82,  91,   103, 
106,    159,    166,  see  also  clergy 
prison,  52,  70,  76 
profession,  7-9 

and  division  of  labor,  26,  29,  33- 

and  self-conception,  44,  46,  48,  66 
and  role,  70,  72,  75,  76 
and  licence,  79,  82,  83,  85,   110, 

prototype  of,  116-17 
education  for  medical,   118,   120- 

23,  127,   129,   130 
new  — s,    131-34,    137,    140,    142 
movement  to  — alize,  157,  159 
sociology  as,  160-68 
professional,  the,  8,  34,  70,  76,  82, 
84,  86,  91,  95 
new  types  of,  112-15 
and    medical    education,    117-19, 
121,    130,    134,    135,    141,    142, 
sociologist  as,  162,  163 
promoter,  40,  65 
Protestant,  33,   104,   105,   109,   150- 

Protestantism,  22 
public  relations,  83 
punctiliousness,  46 
in  ritual,  58,  59 

"quack,"  72,  98,  125,  141 
Quebec,  see  Canada,  French 

race,  45,  103,  105,  111 

effect  on  professional,  113-15 
in   The   German  Statistical   Year- 
book, 146,  150-53,  156 

real  estate  man,  9,  35,  38-40,  44 

realtor,  38,  39 

Redfield,  Robt.,  58,  60 

religion,  12,  13,  18,  19 

in   The  German  Statistical   Year- 
book, 146,  150-56 

Remmelin,  Eugenia,  31 

responsibility,   13,  46 

professional,  58,   63,  64,   65,  76, 
80,  92,  93 

restriction  of  production,  8,  47,  76 

revival,  19,  21 

revolution,  18,  28,  160 



Riesman,  David,  95 

rites,  12,  13-15,  17,  18,  20,  22 

ritual,  16,  26,  27 

and  office,  58-61,  95,  96,  97 
role,  24,  47,  50,  52,  53 

and  office,  56-63 

and  division  of  labor,  68-77,  92, 
98,  113 

in  medical  career,  119-28,  164 
routine,  14,  46 

and  emergency,  54,  55,  58,  88 

salesman,  39,  40,  42 
sanction,  36,  80,  142 
scientist,  43 

— 's  licence,  81,  82,  139,  140,  146, 
163,  164 
sect,  18-20,  22,  32,  61,  84,  104,  125 
sectarian,  see  sect 
segment,  social,  25,  26 
selection,    occupational,    25,    28-30, 

53,  58,  62 
self,  43,  44,  57,  126 
sentiment,  18,  35,  60,  82,  106,  109 
Sigerist,  Henry  E.,  117 
"significant   other," 

of  the  physician,  125.  126,  129 
Small,  Albion  W.,  9 
Smith,  Adam,  24,  99 
Social  Democrats   (German),   47 
Sombart,  Werner,  28,  29,  34,  37 
Sorokin,  Pitirim,  31 
Soviet  Union,  146 
specialization,  166,  167 
specialty,  123 

medical,  126-29,  132,   161,  162 

in  sociology,  166-67 

sponsor,  128 

Statistical  Yearbook  of  the  German 

Reich,   146-56 
statistician,  146,  147,  152-56 
status,  9,  13,  15 

and  person,  23,  24,  27,  33,  35,  38- 
40,  42,  43,  44,  47,  50,  53,  56-58, 
62,  63,  77,  92 
dilemmas  of,  102,  103,  106,  109, 

110-15,  116 
profession's  search  for,  157,  158, 
stereotypes,  7,  24,  75,  106,  109,  110, 

120,  126 
Sumner,   William   Graham,   21,  56, 

58,  59 
symbol,  43,  49 

and  ritual,  59,  60,  61,  121,  122 

Tarbell,  Ida,  38 
Thomas,  William  I.,  23,  31 
trade,  7,  13,  26,  34,  40,  49 
turning  point,  11,  12,  16,  67,  130 

value,  34,  43,  44,  46,  47,  48,  82,  85, 

123,  159 
vow,  13,  21,  59-60 

Wadia,  P.  A.,  36 
Webb,  S.  and  B.,  60,  111 
Weber,  Max,  47,  60 
Whyte,  WilJiam  F.,  Ill 
Williams,  Josephine,  107 
Wilson,  P.  A.,  132 

Znaniecki,  Florian,  31 







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